I saw this mesmerizingly-superb movie, “The Music of Strangers”, when my household cable carrier gave me a gratuitous peek at HBO.
I borrowed a two-CD set of Asian music at the library years and years ago and have been hooked ever since.
The YouTube channel is linked below so you can sample the music in-depth at your leisure.
There is a lot of focus in the movie on Yo-Yo Ma (why not, since he’s a well-known name and entity) but the stars of the movie are the other people, especially the story of the founder pictured here, and — of course — the very nature of music itself.
“… I have a friend, Charlie Lehman, who teaches 6‐year‐olds design technology and he says he has these 6‐year‐olds come into class every morning and they sit down and they center together and he says to them, to these kids, he says, “Children, if you learn what to pay attention to and what to focus on, you can be anything you want in life.” And so that’s what we’re practicing here. We’re practicing choosing what we pay attention to.”
“Not all that long ago I touted a warning that I felt was about to plague social media in a way the social media complex itself never bargained for. That warning? When advertisers suddenly become “spooked” about where and how their content for advertising gets distributed across the web.
What that warning entailed was not so much how the providers would react e.g., the social media platform providers such as Facebook™, Twitter™, Google™, et al. But rather, how the advertisers would react. e.g., The ones that actually pay for that placement…..”
AT&T and Johnson & Johnson, among the biggest advertisers in the United States, were among several companies to say Wednesday that they would stop their ads from running on YouTube and other Google properties amid concern that Google is not doing enough to prevent brands from appearing next to offensive material, like hate speech.
The companies made the moves, which did not extend to Google’s search ads, amid boycotts of YouTube by several European advertisers that began in the last week.
On Tuesday, Google had outlined steps it would take to stop ads from running next to “hateful, offensive and derogatory content” on YouTube and websites in its display network. While Google pledged to improve, brands wanted to hear there would be zero risk that their ads would appear near content promoting things like terrorism, said Brian Wieser, a media industry analyst at Pivotal Research.
“They’re saying they’re trying harder — that’s insufficient,” Mr. Wieser said of Google. “They don’t seem to understand the scale of the perceived problem.”
Years ago, I encountered a series of ads in a major national newspaper for which I once applied to be a proofreader. (I think they’re still laughing out there in Chicopee.) The newspaper has changed in a number of ways since then, particularly in ownership, but the emphasis on numerical accuracy is still required. The ads were clearly written by people who were advanced professionals in the art of communicating and were about — among other things— literate writing and clear thinking. I was so struck by the overall quality of the series that I wrote and, although I had to wait for a while for the answer, apparently was eloquent enough in my request that it was granted. One day in the mail a large packet arrived with quality 8×11 photocopies of every one of the ads ever done. They were published by a major corporation that used the ads not to advertise its products, or even itself, but to spread ideas that were in keeping with its philosophies about society. Today that might be called “terraforming” or social engineering.
I preserved that packet in a bulky file folder for years until finally I couldn’t truck it around with me anymore. The WSJ Blogger, coincidentally, is doing and has done the same thing. Follow that link or use your search engine links above and you may discover that it is slowly being brought to the digital world through Pinterest and LinkedIn.
One of the ads that made a lot of people sit up and take notice was the one that admonished corporate executives to stop using the phrase “I’ll have my girl call your girl.” It went on to explain that “the girl” in question has a name, is a real person with real skills and is a bona fide part of the success equation for the exec and the company.
Another one, one of the most memorable for me, is the one in this pdf: Keep It Simple
[Ed.: I don’t know yet what to make of Dan Siegel (a child and adolescent psychiatrist) and his venture into “interpersonal neurobiology”. I thought I’d explore the possibility of buying a couple of his books. Feel free to share your impressions via the “contact” page.]
For further reading on interpersonal neurobiology, please see Norton’s professional series which was founded by Dr. Siegel and includes over twenty texts. See also Dr. Siegel’s books, including The Developing Mind, The Mindful Brain, The Mindful Therapist, Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, The Developing Mind, 2nd Edition: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are and The Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind!
At the Garrison Institute’s 2011 Climate, Cities and Behavior Symposium, Dr. Dan Siegel of the Mindsight Institute discusses the neurological basis of behavior, the mind, the brain and human relationships in the contect of cities. He explains one definition of the mind as “an embodied and relational emergent process that regulates the flow of energy and information,” and describes the role of awareness and attention in monitoring and modifying the mind. He recommends using the notion of health as a means of linking individual, community and planetary wellbeing. To learn more about the Garrison Institute’s Climate, Mind & Behavior Initiative:
I have the annoying and life-long aggravation of not being able to remember people’s names. It’s not related to an ability to recognize a face; I just can’t remember what’s-his-name more often than not. Kicking around on the world wide web for some understanding, I discovered brainblogger.com whose home page immediately coughed up /the-science-of-raising-a-friendly-psychopath/.
[Ed.: As a former EMS administrator with an intense interest in both mass casualty incident management and emergency management, I can attest to the nature and accuracy of this article. I used to think the way forward was to enhance our ability to save lives but clearly the more lucrative career path was the one that specialized in how to destroy them.]
We have mastered the act of killing. Now let’s master the joy of living.
Overactive brain circuits can often lead to bad habits, compulsive actions, and anxieties. In this illuminating read, two neuroscience experts deliver a simple four-step method to overcome these destructive impulses and live a more fulfilling, well-balanced life.
“… if you take the 14th verse out of each of John’s 21 chapters and string them together, you end up with a very interesting overview of the entire gospel–an overview that sort of rushes by you like a swift-running brook…..”
A recent writing prompt exercise built on the word “boat”
My legs are not sea legs. Looking back over seven decades from within the experience of hip arthritis, muscular issues that are related to a motor stroke and a weak heart that cause me to walk slowly and awkwardly, I think that sometimes it’s all because of an internal balance mechanism that was damaged by an inner ear infection as a child, or perhaps that time when I was six that I fell face first onto the edge of a concrete step, but my first realization that I was not going to be a boatsman was at camp when I flipped the canoe. Flipped the canoe and the counselor too.
Luckily it was shallow, summertime, and he had long legs and some experience; I moved on to archery and capture-the-flag.
My second encounter with a boat was in Florida at the age of nine or so after my step-mother, brother and sister and I drove down to see some rich old distant relative about some family business and we got the treat of a sport fishing trip out of Boynton Beach, Florida. We were going to catch a boat load of swordfish and whatnot.
The rig we were on was bigger and heavier than a canoe and much more stable, and under the command of a bonafied cap’n with one name and some other fellow who handled the rods and the bait. As the youngest, I waited and did what I was told, sat in the seat, buckled the belt, and watched the fellow put something on the hook. He stuck the rod into a metal pipe that I straddled in my seat and out of the harbor we chugged on a cool sunny morning through the briny breezes out into the Gulf Stream. Big brother and sister were ready too, and Mom, and before you knew it, we were way out beyond the ability to see land, looking for fish.
As a nine-year-old, I had no clue about how to look for fish. I could barely see over the side of the boat, the stern’s gunwale, and anyway the fish were in the water.
But someone could see the fish and knew where and how to find them and find them we did. Lots of them. Pointy sleek little buggers, not much to them… Not at all like those big spear-tipped things whose pictures you could see back at the dock with the lucky person who caught it, big smiles on both the man and the fish, though I couldn’t understand what the fish had to smile about.
At least they were. I had one bite but not much more.
The one-named cap’n and his mate were cheering us on, telling the rest of my family that catching bonito was okay, that they could be sold for money at the dock, and that where there were bonito, there was gonna be a swordfish, or mackerel, or maybe barracuda.
They were capn’s and such, and they knew about these things, so I kept reeling and bobbing and getting a fierce sunburn. We had four or five white buckets filled with bonito and some were flopping around on the decks wet with seawater and bait.
Then we found ourselves in some waves. I don’t know what or where, but the cap’n was in charge and we drove on, up and down. Soon enough as the boat went up and down, so did my stomach, and breakfast came up when the boat went down, and whatever I had for legs turned into jell-o, and soon enough I was curled into a ball of seasickness and tucked back into a dark corner under an old blanket, to ride with the future catfood back into the harbor. I was a complete wreck and had to be helped back to the car; they lay me down on the back seat and I woke up somewhere in North Carolina.
The next encounter with a boat was way up north. We’d driven forever on some highways until, finally, we crested the hill and you could see — way down at the bottom of the hill — a river and a town. Soon enough, we were on the docks and getting on a polished mahogany “heavy cruiser”. I was the guest of a classmate and his older sister, given the opportunity to spend a few days on an island in the middle of about a thousand other islands, some big, some small, some with glorious houses, this one a sizeable estate of a very wealthy family.
We played stickball on the clay tennis courts in our bare feet and I ripped the toenail off my big toe trying to get to second base. In the afternoon, we paired off in St. Lawrence skiffs. Everyone in the islands had one, or two, or three of these little boats, and afternoons up there in the summer were devoted to sailing and playing a game of shipboard tag.
The skipper of the boat sat in the back and handled the rudder and the sail; the cap’n’s mate had three and a half tasks. Being the landlubber with no experience, my responsibility was to pull the centerboard up or down according to the cap’n’s commands, to get out of the way of the boom by ducking under it, and to keep my weight (the ballast) tucked down into the well somewhere close to or ahead of the mast. Moving around to either side on the the cap’n’s commands was a secondary method by which he steered. He steered with several purposes. The first was not to get run over by the big freighters.
Generally this was not a problem. They stayed in their lanes, and we stayed out of them. But they couldn’t turn easily or stop suddenly, and they were a lot bigger. In our little wooden boats, we theoretically could turn easily and, if the wind was right and the cap’n knew what he or she was doing, we could scoot to safety.
The second reason to steer was to avoid getting hit by the tennis balls. All those old tennis balls from tennis and stickball went to use.
Each boat was given two of them, and a pole with a net. At the beginning of the inter-islands pre-teen pick-up regatta, called to order perhaps with a couple of blasts on an air horn by some grown-up in a motor boat at precisely (or approximately) 2 PM, one of the boats was designated “it”.
In this game, unlike tag on land, you want to be “it”, because when you were “it”, either the skipper or the mate inn other boats could stand up and throw one of their tennis balls at your sail. If they succeeded in hitting the sail, they were “it” and everyone would now aim for them.
But throwing a tennis ball with any kind of accuracy while you are standing and trying to maintain balance in a narrow boat is not an easy task. You missed a lot. And you ran out of balls quickly.
No problem. All those misses were bobbing in the water in their bright yellowness against the background of blue with white foam, just waiting for you (or perhaps the better, faster boat) to sail over there and scoop it out of the water with the net.
Sometimes if you were very lucky, you could stand up, avoid falling in, and use your net like a lacrosse goalie to fend off approaching yellow bomblets.
Remember, though, I had a balance problem, so I stayed pretty much safely tucked in under the boom, clutching the mast. The waters were not choppy so there were no problems with nausea and vomiting; I just didn’t want to fall in.
Oh, I could swim, and we all had life-jackets anyway. But the skipper’s job of skipping is much more difficult when the ballast is floating overboard and he has to maneuver around so it can be recovered, losing precious time not spent throwing or retriving bobbing wet yellow rubbery furballs.
Now the object of the game, which was over when the air horn blasted again at precisely (or approximately) 4 PM, was to have collected the most tennis balls. The bottom of the winner’s boat was awash with bright yellowness. And everyone got a good suntan, and a lot of experience handling a sailing boat. After dinner, everyone crowded into a motor boat and went over to another island to roast marshmallows and watch the Northern Lights.
The last encounter with a boat started back down in Florida. We’d won one of those quick out-and-back cruises because we said we’d sit still long enough to hear the sales pitch for a time-share. Weakly we finally succumbed and bought a week in October on the inner eastern edge of the Everglades; it took us close to two decades to finally dump the sucker, never once having been visited, traded, shared or even given away. It was like detaching a blood-sucking leech, but I digress.
We parked the car and grabbed the bags and smiled at the photographer on the gangplank. We found the room with a small porthole, dropped the gear, and did the mandatory “abandon ship” drills. Then we explored the boat.
As you probably know, cruises are mostly about eating, and so we ate and drank our way out to the Bahamas, never getting off or even seeing them in the dark, and then turning back in to the south.
In the morning, we awoke to a half-day onshore in Key West. I spent a lot of time on deck. Very stable, and slow… Pulling into port and docking was a trip. We saw a bunch of islands owned by big-named celebrity types, did the tourist-y thing downtown, and passed the first test of not misssing the boat when it departed, again in a slow and stately fashion. Then the cap’n picked up the pace and we waved at the Dry Tortugas on the right, Cuba way off to the left, and settled in as we drove deep into the Gulf (pre-Halliburton blowout and Corexit spray). We had a day on Cozumel which we spent taking the bus down to Tulum and getting the full tour.
We experienced hot, several iguana, and a good dose of Mayan pride. The bus ride to and from was at least 90 minutes. The trip back to the dock in Cozumel to the mainland was aboard a fast catamaran that, despite its double-hulled stability, was a litle choppy. We got an evening to stroll around the tourist shops in Cozumel. The trip back on the cruise ship was a day of sunny delight. After dinner, we turned in knowing that we’d be docking again in Fort Lauderdale in the morning. The big ship had massive hull stabilizers but we hit that same spot offshore where the bonito swam, and there was a spot of queasiness made worse if I peered out the little porthole.
But we landed without incident, debarked, got our luggage loaded, and headed north in a nice stable wide-stance Pontiac TransAm. I got my backside into a bucket seat with a steering wheel in my hands and all was well. There was no motion sickness at 75 in the passing lane back then.
And the fifty-odd books on the craft, plus all the handbooks, thesauri, dictionaries, and other tools. And the 45 e-mails from writing craft groups tucked away for safe-keeping. And the list of writing “assignments” from within the book The Butterfly Hours, whose author Patty Dann taught a class at a local writer’s collaborative.
I added sixteeen of the topics listed on pages 128-129 to my own personal file of topics to write about; so far I’ve finished five of them.
My functionality with the typewriter started in high school, the easy (?) elective of touch typing class in which I labored but never really learned. I could not break myself of the habit of having to look at the keys, nor could I master using more than one finger and one thumb per hand. I did not have a typewriter at home; all high school papers were done in cursive.
I made a significant leap forward when I worked the graveyard shift in college for a telephone answering service. While there was some limited ability for sleep, I used the time — the phones went silent except for important calls from the hospital to the physicians, or calls for urgent service by towtrucks, or when the ambulance company was out on a call and I had to answer the line — to type up my college papers. I got through much of high school and almost all of college on the ability to write an expository paper. They had to be typed. And my employer had an IBM Selectric.
My father, who tracked job markets for the state department of commerce, wrote to the company on behalf of my niece, then in high school, to ask the company what the new tool was all about. He got an answer, which I preserved in my archives somewhere, from some recent high school grad who worked for the p.r. department at the company in Lowell, MA whose office towers still command a major gateway to the city.
The letter is a classic. It will probably bring serious dollars on an Antique Roadshow in the year 2035.
The company has long since fallen to the vagaries of competition and change, but the basic functionality of the word processing system is that the typist could make changes to the document before it got printed, thus eliminating typographic errors, bad grammar, and even bad writing. The letter is a classic because it was produced on a Wang 1200 but had so many examples of typographical errors, bad grammar and bad writing that it seemed like a parody of itself.
I first used a Wang word processor right after I took the job marketing a medical symposium; with a Wang WP, I could print out individually-typed-and-addrerssed letters to hundreds and hundreds of addresses. My bosses thought I was a wizard. I needed only to sit by and maintain the feed, pull off the product, fold it up, and stuff it into the envelopes. Some fellow named Nierenberg ( Andrea’s father ) had already taught me the value and art of personalized direct marketing. Soon thereafter, I was running a one-day seminar to introduce computers to physicians; I was utterly dumbfounded when some of the brightest people I’d ever known would only very tentatively approach the subject or even touch the input device. They were mini-masters at trauma surgery but how to make a brain-in-a-box sing and dance was new to them.
Sometime thereafter I went to worked for a start-up producing cable TV shows for pediatricians and the company handed me the latest in IBM computers; I never could figure out to use the damn thing. But that never held me back; we got 15 shows in the can and I was already at work on a new franchise for orthopaedic surgeons when they informed me that I was fired because I’d failed to sell enough air time to advertisers, a task that was nowhere mentioned in my job description.
A few years later, I took over running an association of business executives who worked for companies like Prime and Digital Equipment. On the first two days of the job, the office staff told me the annual invoices for membership (the organization’s first and major source of income) were due to go out and the DEC system with its 10-inch floppies couldn’t be made to merge the membership database with the invoice form. Calls to the nearby company proved useless; the technical support staffer sent over by our very own internal contact through our vice president and their international director proved useless.
A quick phone call and some research turned up the idea that we could buy an Apple Mcintosh with custom-made software for association management tasks for $5,000 proved irresistible, thus earning me enmity with the Board that I could never outrun.
The Mac ran faultlessly for the 14 months I was there. The invoices were sent out with a three-day delay, thus saving the corporation’s sizeable capital equity, enough so they could purchase an office condo after I left, but I got run out on a rail.
But I had found Apple, bought two for my kids to use in high school and later college, and when my son moved out of the house in his senior year, I had a tool I could learn to use on my desk. I wish I’d had the cash to buy stock. Sorry, Joe.
When I again found myself unemployed because I’d mastered a DOS computyer so well that I made more money at ten cents a line than my department director, I started drafting an e-book on performance psychology.
I once met a girl (or should I say she once met me?), and we talked until two and then she said it’s time for bed and crawled off to sleep (if she could) surrounded by her daughter and her dog.
But while she was awake, she convinved me to take a Briggs-Myers psychometric test that, when it was completed, told me I was an iNTp who lovesplay, languages, and complex systems, amd specially games that coax analogies, patterns and theories from the unseen. So it’s no surprise that I’ve had a fascination forwargaming. One of those nights we talked about her desire to run off 900 miles on a whim to help take care of people in a major disaster, but I talked her out of it. It took me two hours, after which she challenged me (nop, she held my feet to the fire until it was finished and found a home) to writethis.
Some people think this nation is headed into a crisis larger than any its faced in 80 years (a major disaster), and the world has changed a lot since the Depression era. See the three articles below or scroll quickly through the last handful of entries at Occurrences Foreign & Domestic.
In this lecture during the 2013 Yale Presidential Inauguration Symposia, University Provost Polak offers a sample of his popular undergraduate economics course. As the William C. Brainard Professor of Economics, he is an expert on decision theory, game theory, and economic history. His work explores how individuals choose when faced with uncertainty and how societies choose when faced with inequality.
I love query languages for many reasons, but mostly because of their semantics. Wait, come back! In contrast to most systems programming languages (whose semantics can be quite esoteric), the semantics of a query (given some inputs) are precisely its outcome — rows in tables. Hence when we write a query, we directly engage with its semantics: we simply say what we mean. This makes it easy and natural to reason about whether our queries are correct: that is, whether they mean what we intended them to mean.
Query languages have traditionally been applied to a relatively narrow domains: historically, data at rest in data stores; more recently, data in motion through continuous, “streaming” query frameworks. Why stop here? Could query languages do for a notoriously complex domain such as distributed systems programming what they have done so successfully for data management? How would they need to evolve to become expressive enough to capture the programs that we need to write, while retaining a simple enough semantics to allow mere mortals to reason about their correctness?
I will attempt to answer these questions (and raise many others) by describing a query language for distributed programming called Dedalus. Like traditional query languages, Dedalus abstracts away many of the details we typically associate with programming, making data and time first-class citizens and relegating computation to a subordinate role, characterizing how data is allowed to change as it moves through space and time. As we will see, this shift allows programmers to directly reason about distributed correctness properties such as consistency and fault-tolerance, and lays the foundations for powerful program analysis and repair tools (such as Blazes and LDFI), as well as successive generations of data-centric programming languages (including Bloom, Edelweiss and Eve).
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA CRUZ
Peter Alvaro is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of California Santa Cruz. His research focuses on using data-centric languages and analysis techniques to build and reason about data-intensive distributed systems, in order to make them scalable, predictable and robust to the failures and nondeterminism endemic to large-scale distribution. Peter is the creator of the Dedalus language and co-creator of the Bloom language.
While pursuing his PhD at while UC Berkeley, Peter co-developed and taught Programming the Cloud, an undergraduate course that explored distributed systems concepts through the lens of software development. Prior to attending Berkeley, Peter worked as a Senior Software Engineer in the data analytics team at Ask.com. Peter’s principal research interests are databases, distributed systems and programming languages.
Stewart Emery (I was once a three-level student in his Actualizations seminar process), among other things that he did for me, introduced to me the famously-hidden game people play of “how I got them to do it to me”.
Recent researches revealed that music tends to reduce the degree of chaos in brain waves. For some epilepsy patients music triggers their seizures. Loskutov, Hubler, and others carried out a series of studies concerning control of deterministic chaotic systems. It turned out, that carefully chosen tiny perturbation could stabilize any of unstable periodic orbits making up a strange attractor. Computer experiments have shown a possibility to control a chaotic behavior in neural network by external periodic pulsed force or sinusoidal force. One may propose that the aim of this control is to establish coherent behavior in the brain, because many cognitive functions of the brain are related to a temporal coherence.
“Without him, there is no meaning to civilization or the future.
“It was once established that society and civilization existed to liberate him, to remove the shackles of the State from him, so he could pursue his own destiny. This victory was massively opposed by combines, monopolies, and cartels, who seek control over populations.
“It is now up to the individual to stake out his own territory, his own power, his own virtue.
“In doing so, he can settle on little ambitions or great ones. He can develop his mind as a seeking instrument of penetration, or he can absorb himself in shallow ideas. He can make his way along huge trails of adventure, or he can occupy himself with ordinary details of a huddled and mundane life.
“To say these choices are his is obvious. But he has to make them.
“He can imagine and envision tiny advances, or he can view great ascendance.
“He can go down with any number of small ships, or he can build a vessel for himself that will take him across an ocean of invention.
“He can discover what he already knows, or he can create new knowledge.
“He is building the reach of his own spirit, or he is living in a welfare state of mind.
“He is discovering the immortal impulses that reside beyond the language of the crowd, or he is trapping himself in the crowd.”
PROSECUTOR: I recommend a life sentence for the defendant.
JUDGE: A life of silence in an institution. It is so ordered.
PROSECUTOR: Perhaps we could turn him.
JUDGE: Make him into a double agent? I’ll leave that to the psychiatrists. If they believe they can achieve it, they could set him adrift in our cities and let him attract others to his cause. He could help us identify enemies…..”
“A person’s identity,” Amin Maalouf wrote as he contemplated what he so poetically called the genes of the soul, “is like a pattern drawn on a tightly stretched parchment. Touch just one part of it, just one allegiance, and the whole person will react, the whole drum will sound.”
It was 42 years ago this week when I drove down out of the country district where I held down my first full-time post-college job to a university educational conference/retreat center in a small town near where they start the Boston Marathon. I’d written and produced a college student’s final project in video production for a degree in mass communications in which I enlisted the help of friends, co-workers, and others and spliced together a 30-minute narrative about what a top-quality EMS system was supposed to look like.
It was the era of Vietnam in which Army surgeons received patients who’d suffered severe injury burped out of Medevac choppers in which they’d been intubated, given IV access for drug and fluid and plasma push, and perhaps even placed in inflatable rubber shorts for anti-shock treatment.
In the States — where I’d stayed, having been first introduced to entry-level training as a soldier with hand-to-hand combat skills, some survival training, rudimentary firearms training using an M-1 and blanks, and lots and lots of backwoods through-the-brush-and-swamps marching and bivouacking — I was a probationary firefighter during one of those periods in which I’d dropped out of college, having been dismayed by the quality and nature of teaching, having been told by the dean of the pre-med program that I lacked sufficient excellence in the sciences to even entertain admission let alone complete a program.
As a full-time paid probationary firefighter in a town where there were rarely any fires, I was given an advanced 40-hour course that was a precursor of the curriculum developed and approved by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons which became THE standard of care for that decade. I could not become a paramedic; there were no paramedic programs nor even medical acceptance of their value; first I had to build the system, and find the physicians and others who did.
I was on the cutting edge of the social engineering scalpel that turned an uncoordinated approach that offered virtually no applied skills to one that was eminently capable of saving someone’s life across a wide swath of accident and illness. I flunked ladders but excelled at the space-time response parameters in ambulance work. And now I was going to spend a week in this conference center to become part of the state’s second wave of approved instructors for the mandatory 81-hour course for emergency medical technicians.
I had already become one of the state’s first EMT’s and worked for the premiere private ambulance company in the Western half of the state; every other day, in a 24-on/24-off cycle, I was the operational commander of a fleet of 14 ambulances serving an area that extended from Palmer to Westfield, from Longmeadow to Goshen and Hatfield.
On an evening that featured a soft snowfall, I parked my 1974 white Fiat X1/9 and walked into the reception area on a Sunday night to meet the faculty and students with whom I would spend a week. I was three-quarters of the way through my first assignment in establishing a local council, assisting towns in the acquisition of new ambulances, organizing EMT associations, winning consensus on memorandum of agreements, etc. We would hold our first disaster drill later that spring. But here was an adventure, an opportunity to learn and to meet new people.
As student EMT instructors, we were expected to have already mastered the skills and passed the exams (both paper and skills-based stations where you performed under the watch of stern evaluators). Our instructors were experts in training. And as a student instructor, you were expected to teach a short section of topical material of their choice. There were probably 35 other students enrolled; some of them were nurses.
By Tuesday, we were becoming more at ease with the process and with the instructors. The chief instructor would eventually become my boss when I was cycled into the state office to help him write the state’s first responder regulations and training guidelines and where I helped his boss write the first statewide EMS plan. But on Tuesday we were focused on finding and building confidence in our ability to present ourselves as knowledgeable experts to a room filled with firefighters needing to learn about the emergent presentation of heart attack, diabetic crises, or people who’d fallen off their roof, or who had had a severe car accident. We were called upon to critique our co-students. After class, we were free to go out and find a bar and grille just as long as we were back in time for lights out.
On Wednesday, I got put in a group of folks for a second round of student teaching practice assignments; I had a good deal of confidence. I worked my way through college, having returned with some focus, by working for a private embulance company. My first call brought me to a car accident, two blocks from HQ and six blocks from the hospital, in which the young woman driver suffered a penetrating skull impalement; the quarter vent window pillar had been driven up through the cheek behind the eyeball, the wound oozing grey matter, the pillar de-impaled on recoil. Luckily my task was bandaging, not neurosurgery. Teaching with a set of pre-approved high-quality slides, a curriculum synched to bright orange textbooks, and equipment paid for by major foundations and the state government was, relatively speaking, going to be a piece of cake. The worst thing that could happen was that a student could ask a question I couldn’t answer in a situation in which I could say ‘I’ll have the answer for you next time we meet’.
One student, however, was obviously nervous about public speaking, despite an even greater level experience. She represented the individual on the team who was the recipient of patients wheeled in on stretchers by brash young firefighter types who grabbed clean sheets and went on their way; she became the organizer and first level of hospital-based care, assessing, calming, overseeing her own team. This nurse that day had drawn the long straw and had to present on the complexities of diabetic emergencies like insulin shock and diabetic coma. Her nerves stemmed not from her lack of command of the material but from the typical and human fears of public speaking.
I passed her a note that said she needn’t be nervous .. most students would be focused on her beauty.
The rest, as they say, is history.
We went out together for the first time the next night and parted knowing that “we were an item” that Friday, February 14th, a date we celebrate as our “anniversary”.
William James (in How To Be, Do or Have Anything, by Laurence Boldt) reminds us that it is easier to act our way into a new kind of thinking than it is to think ourselves into a new way of acting.
Terry Orlick is one of the great performance enhancement consultants in sport, and he tells us that one of the biggest obstacles we face is not in deciding where we want to end up, but in specifying what we are going to do today to get there.
He breaks this down into three areas: skills, or learning, or perhaps simply key tasks for survival in daily life; our approach, or attitude, or the personal qualities we will bring to the day; and improving our mental capabilities (or winning our internal mental battles).
However basic these may be for people struggling at the elemental level, perhaps there is a tripartite approach that can people on track and moving in the right direction, however slowly and wobbily their progress.
“The last of the human freedoms, in any given set of circumstances, is to choose one’s attitude.”
Chopra says that the thought and the reaction come packaged together, the thought and the molecule that transmits it across the synapses.
He says that we are “the question”, “the answer” and the silent observer of the whole process at the same time.
Expressed another way: Whatever thought or goal we accept in our conscious mind will be accepted by our subconscious mind as a command or instruction. Therefore, any thought, plan, idea or goal held continuously in our conscious mind must be brought into reality by our superconscious mind.
This is where the processes of journaling and working in the arts and affirmations and posters, etc etc come in. We talk about seeds, but we have to learn to hoe and till our own fields with powerful pictures in the mind….
The intimate connections between the imagination, mental pictures, volition and bodily function have been recognized and described for millennia. Candace Pert found “the lock in the key” mechanism that opened the door to our modern sciences of psychoneuroimmunology.
If we really change our skeletal bone structure every three months, then why does our arthritis persist? Chopra says that 90% of the thoughts that we had today are the same ones we had yesterday.
Every time we perform an action or have an experience, it creates a memory, and memory becomes the potentiality for desire. Every thought is either a memory or a desire. Action generates memory. Experience generates memory. Memory becomes the potentiality for desire. And desire generates action or experience once again.
I was watching the celebration parade of duck boats carrying the New England Patriots through the mid-mrning snowstorm in downtown Boston when one of the commentators said that Brady and his bunch had proven that virtually anything could be accomplished, like their miracle comeback of 21 unanswered points in the Super Bowl, and that it stood as an example, a lesson, that someone could write up to teach our children how they could achieve similar things in their lives. I was raising my hand and waving it, unseen in my living room, because I’d already assembled that curriculum.
Once you recognize that “winning” is something that is self-defined by virtue of feeling good about one’s approach/effort/progress, i.e., that it is not externally defined by someone else or some form of measurement, then you come to the enlightened awareness that you can accomplish winning at anything.
[CAF Note: We originally published this article in January 2013. I wrote it over the Christmas holidays in 2012 because it was obvious that, despite enormous noise throughout the media, most people had not looked at the deeper issues in the US budget that presented obstacles to change. We are now living through another period of high noise. The Presidential election represented a debate between those who wanted to keep the unipolar empire going and those who thought it was necessary to pull back to North America.
If you listened to the President’s inauguration speech, Trump talked about withdrawing from the business of telling other countries what to do and putting our own house in order. What we all need to recognize is that the financial picture requires that we change – this is not just the current leadership. So, in the hopes it will help you cut through the noise and understand the challenges that the Administration and Congress face, I am republishing “Coming Clean Beyond the Fiscal Cliff.” The reality is that the swamp is not just in DC – it extends from sea to shining sea. Overcoming the obstacles to real change requires all of us taking responsibility.]
by Catherine Austin Fitts
Ultimately, the fiscal cliff is the tip of the iceberg of our economic and cultural woes. Our problems are deeper. The more of us who are prepared to look honestly at our situation and take responsibility for it, the sooner authentic solutions will become possible and emerge.
As we look over the fiscal cliff into our financial abyss, now is a good time to “Come Clean” about the real state of our lives, our communities, and our economy, starting with the U.S. federal finances that flow deeply and intimately throughout every aspect of our lives.
This Solari Special Report includes (22) challenges we must address to put our federal fiscal house in order.
We are what we are attracted to, and become what we yearn toward.
Follow your attraction through the spectrum of curiosity, interest, admiration, concern, connection, resonance and change.
The Everyday Work of Art: How Artistic Experience Can Transform Your Life, Eric Booth, Sourcebooks, Napierville, Illinois 1997.
Stop pretending that you don’t want whatever it is that you want, and take action. In every case, the remedy is to take action. Get clear about exactly what it is that you need to learn and exactly which you need to do to learn it. Getting clear kills fear.
Zen and The Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design, Laurence G. Boldt, Arkana/Penguin Books, 1993
Common ancestry, common culture, common environment — all these factors contribute to the genomes of individuals of the same ethnic groups. Now, for the first time, researchers say they have quantified the non-genetic aspects of race and identity for individuals of the same ethnic group.
[Ed.: There are any number of reasons why I’ll hold this at an arms’ length right now, but this kind of research bears watching. I am especially interested in knowing if there is any validity to the idea given the surfeit of available technolgical aids that allow, facilitate or enhance meditation, especially those that ostensibly allow one to alter one’s own DNA.]
“Nonstop Metropolis, the latest book by author and activist Rebecca Solnit and geographer Joshua Jelly-Schapiro, dives into the history, culture, diversity, and framework of New York to see what the city is really made of. The book is part of a trilogy, including Infinite City (San Francisco) and Unfathomable City (New Orleans), and features maps and essays from the city’s best artists, thinkers, and writers…..”
A NEW SERIES ABOUT THE VISIONARY DESIGNERS WHO SHAPE OUR WORLD
“… For the past couple of years I’ve been working on a TV show called Abstract: The Art of Design. It premieres on Netflix on February 10. Now, this isn’t WIRED on Netflix. But the show shares some base code (in part because I’m the creator and an executive producer). Abstract is an eight-episode documentary series about creativity, about visionary designers who shape the world around us—from architecture to illustration, cars to typography.
I can guess what you’re thinking, because I have watched a lot of design documentaries. Restrained, polished, pretty—so many of them look like a moving version of a coffee table book. You’ve got softly lit interviews, esoteric conversations, and subtle tracking shots of wide landscapes beneath unobtrusive music. Most of it is clean, minimal, and boring as hell.
Income, jobs, self-expression, entrepreneurship, the economy (or what of it is available to people like you and me), creeping expenses, the shimmering mirage of globalization, debt, health care expenses, and familial obligation have been on my mind a lot lately.
I’ve been out of work for longer than I’d like to admit. I did qualify for a disability check from the US government with the dual diagnosis of motor stroke and advanced heart disease that required surgery for a new valve, generated atrial fibrillation, and got me one of them pacemaker-defibrillators tucked under my left clavicle.
Thanks to an irreplaceable battery of doctors, nurses and their support staff, I am alive, ambulatory, of sound mind, upright, capable of thought and keyboard output. But I have been told I’ll never work again. And the disability check rolled right over into Medicare retirement.
How do YOU define work? The production of what pays how much these days?, and what will your bosses say about how hard you have to work and how well you will be paid for that? A lot of people have those questions and problems.
I had an e-mail exchange the other day with someone in a particular peculiar predicament; I’ll not share the details (you go ahead and fill in your own details), but what I told him was that the simple investment of something like $150-500 and about five hours time might help him figure out the answer to his conundrum in a way that would set him on a positive and functional course for the next two decades. In this economy, it’s hard to think about work for two decades, especially if — like him — you have turned the corner and are well into the prime of your life. Or perhaps your particular peculiar predicament doen’t allow you to find $150-500.
Now you could ask, and with good reason, why I thought I had something of value to offer this particular fellow, and the answer is pretty simple. The more complex answer is to look back into this idea of work and life and see what falls out.
As you might have noticed, I have a library full of books that I not only have read but understand. I recommend many of these books to a lot of people. You really havde to go and read and discover a lot of this for yourself, and why not? It’s your life.
You really don’t want to be beholden to some distant fellow who is going to tell you what to do, or keep you on a short leash so he and his upstream buddies can harness you to the plow, do you? I told him that he could take me over the local bistro at happy hour and buy me a large plateful of oysters and two two-finger glasses of single malt while I told him about the time just after I’d fashioned a very successful and very functional 18-hour long-range planning retrerat for my employing organization and the incoming President came in and threw it (and me) out the door.
Or I could tell him about the time when the incoming President of the organization I had kept afloat despite the inepitude of my predecessors and the Board’s own rigidity cancelled my vacation and told me that my “administrative shortcomings” were sufficient to put my job in severe jeopardy.
Or I could tell him about the time when, having taken over for a fellow who had been summarily fired, the Board told me to manufacture the accounting evidence that would cover the apparent embezzlement by he and several of the elected officers.
In the first case, I found myself a new job (I re-invented myself); in the second case, I told the Veep that she had 48 hours to re-instate what was due me or I was going to walk out the door at the very moment when their entire programmatic year was hanging in the balance. Six weeks later, we had a mutual parting of the ways. In the third case, I informed the Board that the penalty for me to do what they asked was a $10,000 fine and/or some serious jail time, neither of which I would risk for them. They gave me a parting gift of a few grand which did not last as long as I needed it to last. No matter; I am still alive and breathing.
In those instances I had found myself in a peculiar predicament, as I did in yet another case in which I mastered the computer with sufficient understanding that I was able to program it (and me) with a set of templates that allowed me to double and triple my output. I was paid for the production of typed reports and records at the rate of a dime a line and, having discovered what I had discovered and implemented it effectively, I went to my boss (and her boss) to try to explain that they could stop out-sourcing and bring the work back inside and keep a lot of people (including the “customer”) much happier because the turn-around period was cut in half, and they did not have to pay premium rates for the output. But despite the fact that, while I listened to the dictation of people with thick foreign accents I simultaneously listened to jazz, and despite the fact that I was regularly interrupted to interpret the complex terms for other typists, my income soared beyond that of the department head, and when she discovered that, I was history.
This was similar to another employment pecadillo when, as the department rep at an inter-departmental meaning to look at how expenses could be cut, I showed them a way to save over $100,00 a year which, when she found out, made my department head livid because I’d apparently showed her up by not having brought my idea to her so she could take the credit. Later, for that same employer, I was placed back on probation for the exact same act that her bosses’ bosses boss gave me a $500 bonus.
So when, in the final instance, I threw in the towel in exasperation, I became intrigued with the field of performance psychology, and I ended up doing a lot of reading about methods of self-improvement. All this experience with employment (or the lack of it) brought me to the books Zen and the Art of Making a Living. I began to become interested in coaching. While I had done my share of youth sports coaching, I discovered the fields of executive coaching and life coaching and even considered becoming one.
And there’s the rub, the word life. It’s not because I considered being a life coach that I think I am one. I am not. I never did the schooling. I never got certified. I never hung out my shingle. I decided it was not what I wanted to do with my life. But I did enough work that I have several practice resources and fieldbooks, a library full of related material, and a solid understanding of what a life coach is and what one can do for you. I even wrote about an oustanding exemplar in the field right here in this blog, as well as an oustanding executive coach.
Now, as I said, I appreciate that you the reader may not have the cash to hire yourself a life coach. Look into it briefly anyway so you know what it’s all about and how, especially if you do some work on your own, you can reduce the expense you have to pay out of your pocket.
If you’re here. we know you can read.
If you haven’t gotten there yet, start with the book I compiled when I was out of work. I thought I was doing it for my kids, but I was really doing it for myself. I was, as a high school friend of mine from waaay back put it, “re-parenting” myself.
Yes, of course… If you want to be a good parent, you have to make sure you got the lessons done first.
That book is right here inside the blog, the chapters are in pdf format, there’s an expanded or annotated table of contents so you can simply figure out where to start, what to skip, and even if you need it at all.
Even exemplars need coaches. You can’t see yourself as clearly as someone else can.
Life coaches are not shrinks. There’s nothing wrong with you that you can’t fix. So sit down and have a conversation with a trained professional about where you are, where you are stuck, what you want, etc.
Find some books. The bibliography of “Summon The Magic” offers you a number of places to start. Go to the library. If you like the book, buy a used copy. If you have a pretty good idea of where you are headed, find How To Do, Be or Have Anything by Laurence Boldt.
Or get Steve Chandler’s Reinventing Yourself: How To Become the Person You’ve Always Wanted to Be.
If you’re confused about the relationship between earning a livelihood and thriving in your family and community, get Matthew Fox’s The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood for Our Time.
If, after you’ve put your toes into the water, you can’t find a life coach you’re eager to work with, or you simply can’t afford to get involved in his or her fee schedule, go back to the book search process and find a copy of Coach U’s Essential Coaching Tools. It’s a pricey reference book loaded with tools to assess your situation; it’s what the pros use when they get started. But there’s one out there right now for under $50.
You do care about the quality and meaning of your life enough to invest $50, don’t you?
“… Nurses agree that GOOD care is good care no matter whose hands deliver it. Aseptic technique doesn’t necessarily improve with additional initials behind a nurse’s name, and a nurse doesn’t get faster at psychomotor skills because she went back to school. In fact, she may be a little slower getting those electrodes and defibrillator pads attached because of age!!
Nurses agree that GOOD care is good care no matter whose hands deliver it. Aseptic technique doesn’t necessarily improve with additional initials behind a nurse’s name, and a nurse doesn’t get faster at psychomotor skills because she went back to school. In fact, she may be a little slower getting those electrodes and defibrillator pads attached because of age!!…”
“… social media represents the ultimate ascendance of television over other media.
I’ve been warning about this since November 2014, when I was freed from six years of incarceration in Tehran, a punishment I received for my online activism in Iran. Before I went to prison, I blogged frequently on what I now call the open Web: it was decentralized, text-centered, and abundant with hyperlinks to source material and rich background. It nurtured varying opinions. It was related to the world of books.
Then for six years I got disconnected; when I left prison and came back online, I was confronted by a brave new world. Facebook and Twitter had replaced blogging and had made the Internet like TV: centralized and image-centered, with content embedded in pictures, without links.
Like TV it now increasingly entertains us, and even more so than television it amplifies our existing beliefs and habits. It makes us feel more than think, and it comforts more than challenges. The result is a deeply fragmented society, driven by emotions, and radicalized by lack of contact and challenge from outside….
Neil Postman provided some clues about this in his illuminating 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. The media scholar at New York University saw then how television transformed public discourse into an exchange of volatile emotions that are usually mistaken by pollsters as opinion. One of the scariest outcomes of this transition, Postman wrote, is that television essentially turns all news into disinformation.
“Disinformation does not mean false information. It means misleading information—misplaced, irrelevant, fragmented or superficial information—information that creates the illusion of knowing something but which in fact leads one away from knowing … The problem is not that television presents us with entertaining subject matter but that all subject matter is presented as entertaining.” (Emphasis added.) And, Postman argued, when news is constructed as a form of entertainment, it inevitably loses its function for a healthy democracy. “I am saying something far more serious than that we are being deprived of authentic information. I am saying we are losing our sense of what it means to be well informed. Ignorance is always correctable. But what shall we do if we take ignorance to be knowledge?…”
Hossein Derakshan (@h0d3r) is an Iranian-Canadian author, media analyst, and performance artist who lives in Tehran. Find his latest project, an exploration of the intersection of performance art and journalism, at @talkingtagsart.
“Read books and magazines and the labels on the backs of cereal boxes. In Beloved, Toni Morrison wrote that one of her characters died “soft as cream.” You can’t use that brilliant line, but when a sentence like that is in your mouth, there is a possibility you’ll find another to offer to the gods.
People often switch genres as they get older, of what they write but also of what they read. They will say “I don’t know why I am suddenly reading poetry” or “I’ve given up reading fiction altogether.” People are often surprised or even uncomfortable, as if they’d suddenly begun an illicit affair if they switch writing or reading certain genres. “But I always loved fiction,” they say. It is as true as swimming in a lake where the water suddenly changes temperature. It can be unsettling, but the oldest students in my class, those in their nineties, just smile and say “And it will change again. You will see.”
Genre does not matter, as long as you’re reading. If you’re not reading, you’re not writing. Reading is part of your daily devotion if you are a writer. When you read as a writer, it is different than reading for pleasure. You are studying the craft, just as an artist must go to the museums to see the great masters, and a musician must listen to Mozart and Miles Davis, and everyone should read Vincent’s letters to his brother, Theo.
When you read as a writer, read a sentence and try to imagine the sounds, the touch, the taste, the smells the writer is writing about. As you write, you put yourself back together.”
An observation in this age of social media, driven by TV, Hollywood and other practices of the creation of a “brand”, is that brand image is the new battleground for supremacy of information. The mainstream media have been knocked off their high perch and, while the pre-season scrimmaging for audience share and recognition has been underway for some time now, the new ratings period is open. The New York Times is selling its office space, oligarchs are venturing into news company ownership and web site creation, and ioncreasingly we see competition for who should be seen as the premier purveyor of acuracy.
Everyone, before and after the numerous infilitrations, was and is responsible for their own minds.
What we are witnessing is the Oprahfication of truth. The hapless reader is asked, nay being forced, to choose between the Kardsashans of investigative journalism and the others.
It’s just the latest variant or extension of contempt for your own ability to read, decide, and more. Indeed, along with the Oprahs and her offspring, the Kardashian sub-industry, “reality TV”, revamped and re-packaged TV news, and dozens of other choices, it’s a battle for where and how you should place your attention.
The book “Deep Survival” will explain the real importance of attention.
Eric Booth’s “The Everyday Work of Art” stands as a pinnacle.
Find a copy of Terry Orlick’s interview with the world-class cardiothoracic surgeon Curt Tribble, M.D., in which he discusses the ability to function with an element of uncertainty, the critical importance of focus and distraction control, and the ability to deal with sub-optimal outcomes, all relevant to any pursuit of excellence.
It has been said that the information we allow into our consciousness is what determines, in the end, the content and quality of our lives.
Leonard Bernstein on Cynicism, Instant Gratification, and Why Paying Attention Is a Countercultural Act of Courage and Rebellion