Category Archives: Personal

Well, close to me and about me.

‘Slaughterhouse-Five,’ 50 years later: What Kurt Vonnegut taught one soldier about war – The Washington Post

Soldiers from the 5th Battalion of the 20th Infantry Regiment in Baqubah, Iraq, in March 2007. (Staff Sgt. Stacy L. Pearsall/U.S. Air Force)

‘Slaughterhouse-Five,’ 50 years later: What Kurt Vonnegut taught one soldier about war – The Washington Post

“So it goes.”

I have reread Slaughterhouse Five multiple times. I also liked the movie. A young Valerie Perrine will be forever imbedded in my mind as Montana Wildhack looking at me from a tub. She made Billy Pilgrim forget his PTSD and created a respite throughout his time travels escaping a senseless hell. She brought peace.

I used to think there were some “just wars” like WW II. I am starting to believe there are NO just wars. I suspect Hitler’s rise could have been prevented by a much better foreign policy following WW I. His expansion could have been curtailed by a smarter, more unified diplomacy and the prevention of interference by multinationals, who worked on both sides to profit. The holocaust was preventable both by a different policy, the lack of constraints within Germany, and a more open policy towards accepting refugees in the US.

Slaughterhouse Five was published right around the time I was drafted for the Vietnam War. My lottery number was 39. There was no hope. I was called for my medical – “report to a bus pickup location with two days change of clothing at 6:00am.” A day before the life-changing event  I had a sudden medical issue and had to be rescheduled. The ensuing bureaucratic delays were enough to still be at home a couple of months later when Nixon cancelled the draft. A major lucky break! I was totally unsuited for military duty and likely would have gotten myself killed. If not, I would have been a classic PTSD basket case before that term became wide spread.

Life is strange. So it goes.

Om Shanti Om.

The Creativity of ADHD – Scientific American

The Creativity of ADHD – Scientific American

“But ADHD may also bring with it an advantage: the ability to think more creatively. Three aspects of creative cognition are divergent thinking, conceptual expansion and overcoming knowledge constraints. Divergent thinking, or the ability to think of many ideas from a single starting point, is a critical part of creative thinking. Previous research has established that individuals with ADHD are exceptionally good at divergent thinking tasks, such as inventing creative new uses for everyday objects, and brainstorming new features for an innovative cell phone device. In a new study, college students with ADHD scored higher than non-ADHD peers on two tasks that tapped conceptual expansion and the ability to overcome knowledge constraints. Together with previous research, these new findings link ADHD to all three elements of the creative cognition trio.”

Clinically I am certainly not suffering from either ADHD or OCD. But when I look at my personal behavior, I seem to be bimodal at times. I may have a hard time focusing on s particular issue to be solved and may distract myself with task unrelated activities longer than I should. But once refocusing I often find myself with unexpected solutions. Once focused I may be absorbed to a seemingly unhealthy degree. But this is often required to bring the task to completion.

Dick Dale: ‘King of Surf Rock’ guitarist dies aged 81 – BBC News

Dick Dale: ‘King of Surf Rock’ guitarist dies aged 81

For me Dick Dale and the Beach Boys were “the California spirit” as seen from cold Germany. It was the future, where everything was sunshine and the girls were cool! It made me pull up my stakes and travel here before i knew what it meant and how hard it would be.

Just a couple of riffs get you there. All about the SLUDGE!

Thanks, man! I never met you, but I’ll miss you. Your music is an indelible part of my mind and journey.

The Meaning

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Meaning in its narrow definition is crucial to our communications. In normal use words and sentences are primarily used for their meaning. Although in art we might use language for its sound, in normal writing or conversation we use it it to communicate a thought, an intent, an observation, or a request.

Language is shared. A key component of learning the language is not just about the sound of the words or the grammar ruling its assembly, but what its shared meaning is both in the word’s denotation as well as it connotation. It is based on the assumption that there is a shared reality and a shared set of internalized models of that reality.

But this is not really what I want to write about.

I want to talk about the word meaning with another connotation such as the “meaning of life, the universe, and everything.”

This kind of question is interesting and probably uniquely human. It is a meta level inquiry that moves the question of meaning to something that has this at its core and purpose – language – and applies it to a process or thing that as far as language is concerned has no other relevancy beyond its existence.

Life and the universe simply are as is everything.

As humans we see purpose and, by abstraction, meaning in our creations. The purpose of a hammer is to fasten a nail. Nailing is what makes a hammer’s existence meaningful.

But we also translate the same process to stuff that is simply there and cannot be easily explained – life, the universe, a sudden illness, or death.

We wonder, what’s the point? But there is no point.

It’s one of the reasons we invented religions. It’s a subject of philosophy.

But in the end this kind of meaning is only meaningful to each of us personally. There can never be any proof for the “meaning of life, the universe, and everything.”

The rise of the ambient video game

zeldabotw-2018-04-21-10-471.jpgvia 3QuarksDailyTheOutline – The rise of the ambient video game – Link in the Korok Forrest ready to replace the Master Sword into the stone to start his Master Trials.

Lewis Gordon describes his recurrent experience with Nintendo’s hit and truly revolutionary “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” He compares it to Ambient Music, which is also a genre I love.
Talking about the convergent emergence of video games and ambient music in the 1980s, he writes, “Shigeru Miyamoto, wanted to draw on his childhood experiences of climbing mountains and discovering lakes in the countryside around Sonobe, a town roughly an hour’s drive from nearby Kyoto and Osaka. His wish found expression in the original Zelda’s large, nonlinear and mythical pre-modern Japan. The designers, coders, and artists crafted a crude 8-bit landscape with the emerging computer-chip technology, the game’s deep, verdant greens a far cry from the concrete and steel dominating Japan’s cities and towns at the time.”

“Japanese ambient music of the 1980s reflected such concerns. Hiroshi Yoshimura released the album Green in the same year as The Legend of Zelda, crafting a work of almost unfettered naturalism, lush with shrubbery and the drip of water.”
“The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, […] has incredible grass. It undulates gently in the wind while the sun paints its tips yellow. Meadows turn into shimmers. Holding forward on the controller jostles Link, the game’s boy-hero protagonist, into a light jog, his weight only just displacing the greenery around him. In the evening I sit on the couch, letting the colours and sounds of the digital world wash over me, allowing my brain to slowly decompress. It’s a relaxation activity that slips nebulously into self-care, the video game equivalent of putting an ambient record on.”

This echoes my experience. I find myself drawn back into Hyrule after taking my time (more than 640 hours!) to complete the game and DLC in both regular and Master modes. I look for more Koroks (little surprises and puzzles hidden throughout the open realm,) help people in distress along the path ways, try to catch a better horse, or just watch a sun set on a mountain top with a dragon flying in the distance.

It’s the ambience of the game redeeming reality (to quote Kracauer) that draws me back and back again.

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Ursula K. Le Guin has passed, No Time to Spare

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I was about to celebrate another year of survival when I read about Ursula Le Guin’s passing. I have read her works since early adulthood starting at 17 with “Left Hand of Darkness.” It was a heady time. I had just arrived in my new country from Germany and was trying to adjust and survive. But her book and later “Dhalgren” by Samuel Delany (discovered on a grocery store bookshelf !) in 1975 opened new vistas. I had been reading Science Fiction all my life. But then I became more deeply receptive to the thoughts and concepts. I have been a reader since then and have entertained the thought and desire to write myself.
I should note that this is being posted way late due to clogged MacJournal pipes (author error.)  I have been reading a lot of ULK’s non-fiction. More on that RSN,.

New Years is as good a time as any to make changes to patterns making you dumb!

As I contemplate the year and our life it has become clear that following my current patterns will not give me the future I want. My habits are not destructive, but also not constructive.

This is a very personal thing, but I am sure that many in my age group will find themselves needing to redefine their life, start fresh and complete, what they always wanted to do. Since we are embodied, we must start there. Sleep, food, other things. What pattern makes us truly feel good and able to achieve what we aspire to?

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I have decided to abstain from some things I like in exchange for feeling better long term. I also want to find myself in control of my urges. Wine and beer is one of those things I associate with relaxation.

Reading biographies of the many good people who ended up their lives struggling with dementia, it is surprising to see the widespread problem of alcohol. I am not an alcoholic, but I have noticed the heightened sensitivity to it with age. The pleasure is not worth the risk. This blog is a great collection on Dementia: Going Gentle Into That Good Night

I ran across it doing research for a story I am planning out.

But there are also other habits most of us share.

Over the last few months I have self observed patterns of electronic media consumption, which by themselves are not obsessive, but can become so. Apps like Flipboard claim to search for your interests presenting the results, but they are designed to keep your attention like a drug. Facebook has the same ultimate intent as do many other social apps like imgur, Pinterest, and even Quora.

All really aim to permanently capture your attention via continually changing visual stimuli in an unconscious way. While you are aiming to take in this information, you DO NOT THINK. You are just visually processing. And you are becoming addicted! You keep spending time.

It turns out that “flipping those boards” and reading those abstracts one after another or “Liking” the posts on Facebooks as you scroll endlessly also might have more long term effects on your intelligence and creativity – perhaps even eventually causing dementia.

The site mentioned above has a great book review of “The End of Absence” by Michael Harris and analyzes some of these patterns further in Technology and Neurology – A Perfect Storm For A Lifestyle Dementia

I am not intending on becoming a Luddite, but “attention must be paid!” In this case, I want to look at my patterns and be aware and in control . In the end our life experience is about how we consciously spend our time.