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Friday, September 21, 2012

Dreaming Explained Good

This a picture of me in my new hat. One of my sons sent it to me this week. It's perfect for the season right now. I keep my brain in it.

The human brain is an organ whose cellular concert projects the mind. The mind, once created, finds it has no material substance of its own and consoles itself by furiously organizing events reported to it by the brain. It sounds like this:

Brain: Hey, get a load of this, this, this and...

Mind: Gaaaah!!! Slow down! I only have two...Crap! I'm a figmental focal point; I don't have any hands!

Brain: Whatever.

But it doesn't stop there. Brain throws stuff at Mind all day and Mind does its best to put it away but usually gives up early and just waits for Brain to give it a rest . Sleep is when two loosely connected regions of the brain, the conscious and the subconscious, communicate with each other. According to the early nineteenth century scholars who described this process and educator, Eliphalet Oram Lyte (1842 - 1913) who set their scientific abstract to modern music, it sounds like this:

"Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.
Life is but a dream."

Central idea is, conscious and subconscious are two mental states sung in the round. Mind simply cranks the brain a bit and it becomes an engine that churns events and releases them out an exhaust pipe. In this gaseous form, Mind finds them manageable. It is called dreaming. I've found dreaming a nebulous enigma. No one of my generation can rule out waking up in Golden Gate Park back in 1967 exclaiming, "Oh wow!"  It happens.

But when it doesn't happen it means the past 45 years are real and we must give consideration to all dreams. One dream, which coincided with the new hat, was predicated on the idea of the American Civil War involved a big tree in our back yard here in California. I got into my toybox and found properties to commemorate this event. Sometimes the events most worthy of celebration are dreams that did not come true. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Möbius And Finding One's Self Oneself

Yesterday evening, Norma's blackboard invited me to reflect and decide if, after a day of cardiology tests, I was having fun yet. A simple question if you ignore the virgule --right-leaning slash mark-- which is actually a chive. In all languages, including French, one can distinguish between virgules and chives because only the latter casts a shadow. This is elementary grammar to my generation but is no longer taught and bears repeating. By such details one finds one's self.

The phrase "one’s self" is used in spiritual, philosophical and psychological description. Otherwise, "one’s self" can be replaced with the pronoun "oneself" except in possessive reference to a small mythical being --in which case, it's probably better not to mention "one's elf", even loudly on a cell phone in public. Why? Because it doesn't really compete with public cell-phone broadcasts like, "Where you at? No, where YOU at? I'm at the checkout line, buying that stuff FOR MY CONTAGIOUS INVERTED NIPPLE!"

Where this leaves one's self is debatable.

People who shout publicly on cell-phones are the biological equivalent of a geometrical enigma, the Möbius strip.

The Möbius strip is a surface with only one side. It was discovered independently by German mathematicians August Ferdinand Möbius and Johann Benedict Listing in 1858. This was a great coincidence, diverging only in subsequent disagreement between the two mathematicians over which side had been isolated. Möbius claimed the outside and Listing argued for the inside. They finally agreed it was neither but the model was named after the mathematician with the best left hook.

Cell-phone shouters seem only to have an outside, but their effectiveness in driving the rest of us inside suggests both geometrical planes coexist.

Two-sided people can use cell-phones too. Norma uses hers to converse very quietly with our children, who have grown up and scattered over the world, in the same gentle voice she used to hush them to sleep with when they were little. She does this in the evening while painting things blue.

While Norma was murmuring soporific phrases in the 1980s and '90s, lots of friends were questing off to India to find themselves. They would come back after a year or two, full of strange enthusiasms --meditation, abolition of self, gravity bathing (ok, I just made up gravity bathing)-- back to find their little ones had found other parents and their spouses reassigned. They had found themselves in search of themselves, but on the bright side they found a lot of Indians.

My personal search for myself is as it has always been. The sun sets. I set out to find it. On the way, I notice the elf is not an elf but a purple-capped gnome at the foot of Norma's slate. And what...whatever I was looking for: probably forgot and left it in the van.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Political Life

Here is a picture of a man. He is nearly 63 years old. He is on a big adventure to find his shadow but is walking in the wrong direction. Why is he doing that? Why is he doing that on a hot September day in California? He is in training.

He is in training for politics because it is a goddawful political year, full of upheavals, downheaveals and unilateral global heavals, but he doesn't care about that. This is important. He wants to become Lieutenant Governor of Wyoming. Why? Because he is currently Lieutenant Governor of Arizona and hates the Capitol Building:

That is why he lives in California. Yes, it's still dry here and he despairs of his yard but politics is a strange bedfellow and he prefers to live with his wife who says, "so is he because he steals all the covers". But more importantly, he braves the inclemency of the Golden State. In his words: "Those other two states, much as I love them and dedicate my political life to them, are just gravel."

No other Lieutenant Governor of either state has given a kinder description of them.

Why is our candidate special? First off, he was a prime athlete who attended several prestigious central California community colleges on a full Cockfighting Scholarship. He became class president through a series of debates, tontine inheritances and the slogan, "A lifeboat under every davit!". His platform consisted of fierce promises to clean up campus lavatories --which really needed it-- expressed as , "a vote for me is a vote for sanity", a word he still confuses with sanitation. He also perfected a directive that thematized his subsequent public life: "If we cannot progress singly, let us escape severally. You guys go first!"

There are some who say the office, to which our candidate aspires, holds no real power. In rebuttal, one can only point out the contributions of Lieutenant Governors in Arizona, Maine, Oregon, West Virginia, Puerto Rico and, of course, Wyoming. If you would like to impress alumni at your high school reunion by claiming to be a Lieutenant Governor, make sure it's one of those six places. Other states and territories actually have that office.

Oh, and I have dibs on Wyoming.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cloud Computing, Idiot Wind

I'd just stepped out the back door when I heard it.


Looked around. Couldn't really get a fix on the source.

"Psst! Up here."


"Hello, Cloud. What's up?"

"Haven't the foggiest."

It's a silly old joke I've long traded with the sky. Cloud never tires of it. Never tires of anything really, but gets lonely, wants to talk.

"Been wondering what you're up to, kid," said Cloud.

"This and that. Retired some years ago but still get out to see you."

"Yes, your years as a gardener. See a lot of each other then."

"'See'? That's present tense, Cloud. I haven't gardened commercially in over three years."

"Oops, I forget. It's all present tense to me. Water molecules don't age."

"Well, I do."

Cloud folded pensively, then broke up a bit. "I don't see why, Geo. You're mostly water, same stuff I am with a few trace minerals added."

"They make all the difference, Cloud. But I can see why you're divided on the subject."

"So you're human. You got minerals. You experience time. What's the big deal with time?"

"Well, right now you're turning some lovely colors because it's nearly sunset, which is a time."

"Ok, it'll be sunset here. It's being sunset elsewhere and been sunset even elserwhere than that. How's it relevant?"

"It helps us humans coordinate events on clocks and calendars. For this purpose we've divided our rotating world into time-zones."

"Sorry Geo., but to me it just sounds like you all can't agree on what single solitary time it really is in the world. If you can't agree on what time it is, you can't expect to agree on much else."

"Maybe so. You know, for a cloud, you have an admirable insight --human doings, thoughts."

"Thanks, but the time thing is admittedly confusing. I mean I see you at all stages of your life clear back to the middle of the past century and..."

"And what?"

"Never mind."

"You were going to say something about the future, weren't you?"

"No, not important. I know you're happy to be whatever's left of yourself because..."


"All life drinks water, is made of mostly water and passes water, which evaporates. Where do you think I come from anyway?"

"Good point. I bow to your wisdom and discretion, but aren't you leaving something out of your timeless computations? Something like Wind?"

"What do you mean? Wind is an idiot!"

"An idiot that has drawn you from the sea and will pile and bash you on the Sierras until you fall out of the sky."

"You sure? Wait a minute. I have an even better idea. Don't go in..."

"Not my call. See you underfoot in the Spring." I said as the trees began to sway.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Garden sign said she wants coffee. I don't know where to take an unknown number of cups --are there guests, people in the woody end?-- but I ignore it at my peril. Where did I leave that? Pumphouse, not because it contains peril but a treasured boyhood book I read, "Planet Of Peril", by Otis Adelbert Kline and the mind wandered: Perils Of Pauline? Perils before swine? Swine, wine. What wine with swine? Cabernet, I decided. And they want coffee? There was a wet lump on the underside of the doorknob. I brought it up on my finger and said, "Not again! Are you all right?"

"I think so. Just set me on the sill."

"Certainly, little doorbooger. But you shouldn't loaf under the knob."

"I know. I always forget. But you must admit, the doorknob is safer than getting into the door jamb. People close doors and we have awful accidents in there --again and again. See that mummified flap of flesh at the hinge? That was my father."

"I'm so sorry!"

"No need. He was an idiot."

"Surely not."

"Ok, look between my eyes. What do you see?"

"I see a sort of concavity."


"Empty space, nothing."

"Exactly, I inherited that, yet between your eyes is a great cranial vault bigger than the flower pot that five generations of my family call home."

"But surely, your place on the evolutionary ladder equals mine, doorbooger."

"Don't call me that. My name is Darwin."

"You do you know about Darwin?"

"Us treefrogs are all psychic. We just looked in your mansion-sized human brains and named ourselves after the deal that gave the most reasonable explanation of us.

"So you can see Charles Darwin in my brain?"

"Yeah. We got OBE."

"What's he saying?"
"Not a helluva lot."

"You did that by Out-Of-Body-Experience?"

"No big deal. Every body who isn't you is having one right now."

"That's amazing! And it would compensate for your lack of cranial capacity."

"True, on our own we have poor memories. By the way, aren't you supposed to be brewing coffee? And that book, it's green, bound in buckram."

"Oh yes, thanks for reminding me."

"Of what?"