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Thursday, October 01, 2020

Music as a Story

 From studying the processes and templates used in screenwriting, I found a fascinating parallel. 

What if a piece of music were a movie story by itself?

This suggested to me perhaps musicians could play roles, as actors do. It helped me imagine a way to teach the ability to improvise, by describing what musicians actually DO when they play together.
After all, when arranging a piece of music, players agree on “rules of thumb” for ways to play out a piece of music. By making a language to describe this process, this allowed improvisation with a specified form behind it, like an outline that didn't exactly specify exact notation. 

I know that some musical terms already existed to describe some of these "stages" in music, but I wanted more. I wanted to simplify and make it so only a page of terms needed to be learned to gain the whole picture.  

If you'd like to see the result of my invention that was inspired by this parallel thinking of marrying the genre of screenwriting to musical performance, check it out! 

Read about the unique advantages of arranging music from the point of view of imagining a piece of music as if it were a story. Here's an example of one of my outline of a musical piece:

 Any invention takes a bit of investment to wrap your mind around, and this one is no different. Projects need to be "born" and brought to maturity by exploring, figuring out and shaping how they could be useful. Ideas are similar to babies: lots of trouble! 

It's unpredictable what happens when you take one genre and use it to inspire unique characteristics in another arena. Doing so often creates synergistic combinations, often useful for more functions than could be initially imagined. Using and playing with a unique combination is what makes these characteristics reveal themselves over time. What started out as a convenient way to combine the differing abilities and involvement level for a large group of performers turned out to have other uses. 

As I used this newly invented system to describe existing characteristics of musical styles that already existed, I realized it could be used as a way to invent a completely new particular musical style that could be varied - without losing its defining "flavor." 

 It's as if I had built another magic cauldron that generated jazz from the blues! 

Here are some of the many different purposes for the Arranger's Game : 
    • a way for one person to compose or propose their own arrangement ideas of a particular performance piece for their other band members 
    • a way for a music teacher to have all of their students play together, that will teach improvisation ability
    • a way to include performers of different abilities who don’t have “chops.” 
    • a way for band or troupe members to discuss how to play a particular song together or perform with others in a musical theater situation 
    • a way to give form to generalized "jamming" among musicians who do not know each others songs, skill level or style of playing 
    •  ... as a digital composer's game that could have part printouts - (of course, this would take some computer programming skills.) 
 I would think that the experience of making music together with other people would be it's most interesting and fun application. Of course, that takes for granted that you would have assembled a "troupe" of willing participants who played music on instruments and/or performed and were interested in playing together with each other. Musicians would need to keep their egos at bay, and agree to cooperate and not compete, because music isn’t a competitive sport! This is the perfect process for a church who wants to include everyone who wants to play. 

 That was how I put my interest and ability to observe and analyze the nature of stories into becoming a new invention that could be exploited for more of what I might think would be fulfilling and fun. 

Hope you leaned enough here to motivate you to be inspired to head over to my site, learn a page full of terms and use it on a group to see if it’s as useful as I’ve outlined here.

Please learn more on this 

Maybe you’d like to read about how my own community was inspired by this idea? 

They used it as a template to act out a small town Solstice celebration – coming up!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Stories and Comparing Drive Invention


These days, the art of telling stories is essential for the communication of almost any purpose or content. I find continuing inspirations for the creation of stories from the field of screenwriting. Here's a snapshot of a beautiful paradise beach taken from a plane, with a house hidden in the trees. What story does it imply?

How are “important” scenes, characters and features selected as meaningful that "drive" a plot line forward...? How can we take our raw experiences and turn them into an interesting story?

I'm fascinated to explore, articulate and re-purpose the artistic motives about what makes the power of a "good story" - scene by scene. I've noticed in the shaping of a story line that what's missing is just as important as what's included. Whatever is left out becomes unnecessary, and what is selected becomes highlighted in its importance.

How did I do this? It’s been fun for me to expand my ideas from reading longer books after seeing the movies that digested stories to a much shorter experience.

One observation I gained (not obviously revealed by merely watching movies) is how movie viewers have been educated over the years to figure out what is happening in a story. Viewers are shown scenes depicting what has been determined by screen writers to be relevant to the story. Making sense of these scenes are embedded in the action of the actors, set and events – and movie music scores. Of course, this also includes indicators of time frames, foreshadowing of later events, suspense, drama, character building, etc.

This means that movie watchers are, to a great extent, completely unaware of how much work they are doing to construct the plot, events and characters as a story unfolds. 

Good storytelling never disturbs the illusion of how a viewer must continue to be tracking these elements to make sense of the illusion that is being created for their own story experience.

Of course, many of us enjoy movies. Our appetite for a good story seems to be unlimited! That's enough for most people...but for me, it wasn’t. 

THINKING SKILL TACTIC: Splitting is better than Lumping

In opposition to collecting a grouping of what is similar, I find generating differences to be the more constructively creative strategy. When it comes to creativity, comparing to reveal differences is my favorite process to generate new discoveries. By noting differences, the selected features can be designed into a model or form. Then possibly unrelated areas can be plugged in as different content - it's a way to "repurpose" the same content. Seeking differences allows former randomly related factors to become relevant as the process is explored and expanded. 

 This is a bit abstract, so let me give three examples... 

 Recipes are an obvious example. You can observe and note what makes a casserole different from a cake. Then you'd take the form of a casserole, which is some sort of grain or starch that is baked, including some sort of vegetable or meat, usually precooked and a type of topping such as a cheese or a crunchy goody. Now once you've done this describing, you can take as a form a genre of food, such as lasagna - and switch the contents to another cultural style of food - For instance, you can make a Mexican food casserole instead of an Italian one. Then you get an original creative combination that wasn't obviously apparent. 

Concerning art materials: What's are the different functions of sealing a charcoal drawing? So you can avoid smudging the drawing, giving it a finishing coat; you might want to continue to draw further on it without spoiling what you've previously drawn. Needs to disappear after drying. Can't change what you've drawn that it's sealing. Can't change the texture of the paper you're drawing on.
(There a product designed for this called "workable fixative.") Now that you have described differences and features, you can experiment to discover how certain products of hair spray will work just as well. Hair spray can be purchased for two dollars on sale as opposed to sixteen dollars for the product specifically designed as workable art fixative.

 Related to the music business - here's another example in the "music genome" of 
At the start of this business, musicians working with Pandora would listen to songs and describe the characteristics of the different, unique features in each song - features such as instrumentation, style, use of harmony and rhythm and "feel" etc. Eventually, descriptive commonalities of particular songs were cross-categorized and organized into a large database – the “genome.”. As these features of music were established, these descriptions of unique characteristics were matched to other "similar" songs to generate a streamed delivery of music that Pandora called a "radio station." This was delivered as a paid and a free service containing advertising to Pandora listeners. It had many monetization possibilities: exposing listeners to new musicians they might enjoy possibly had listeners buying new music. As the business service model evolved, any user of the site could specify a type of music they enjoyed, based on a particular song, musical artist or podcast theme. With their own streaming radio station, the user design would be generated by an algorithm written by Pandora from the mix of characteristics present in any particular song's description - going far beyond any musical genre. Each user would design their own unique mixture as a "radio station," share these stations with others, etc. The user could "tune" or "shape" their station with a "thumbs up/down" interactive feature if Pandora database delivered the “wrong” songs to the stream. 

 Every business could use a story about how and why it exists.
Would screenwriting templates about what makes a 'good story' help you formulate your interesting story? 

How would the ability to compare to reveal differences help you to tell your story and expand your business?

Thursday, September 03, 2020


"Asemic" by Luis Colon

I write by hand quite often. Mostly I do so because I enjoy it. In fact, I love writing that is "Asemic" - which looks as if it's writing but actually is only similar to it, as this image depicts above.

I have numerous hand-written books. Often, the first thing I do when I get a cool little blank book is to put in page numbers, leaving a few pages at the front for a "table of contents." Then as I add (random fashion, usually) to the contents of the book, I notate in the front what page and what the subject I wrote about is - so I can find it easily later on.

I have books about interesting finds and links (yes, I do really hand-write the links along with explanations about what they are so if they become obsolete I can find them later on - sometimes I paste in pictures and other relevant information in case the links get taken away.)

I have books of lists and processes done with thinking skills. Some of these are about my own individuation - such as how I come across to strangers at first impression so I can choose how to use common misunderstandings that strangers assume about me. I have made various sorts of "Bucket Lists" for various reasons and purposes, (such as movies and books I might want t to check out - or books I get from the library that I might want to check out again.) Some of these hand-written books of mine are written out in multi-colored pens, so the ideas are classified with color coding. I make lists of people I met incidentally and why I connected with them. I have lists of people I met online and how they came to mean something to me. I have lists of people I ran into on and what I enjoyed about them, with their user names and how to get in touch later through other platforms.

I made lists of figures of speech, lists of interesting scrabble words and what they mean, collections of strange facts about plants or fruit or places. I made lists about where to find things I might want to locate that I've "hidden in a good spot" from myself.

Since I was a teenager, I have volumes of pretty much all of my "major decisions" that mostly contain the questions I asked myself when I was thinking about what to do next with my life. Strange how these questions are often cyclical or perennial. ...How often these questions get exactly the same answers (using the I Ching) is even more of a coincidence, especially when these questions are duplicated DECADES apart! So over time, I have evolved what I could call a "Decision Journal." 

I have handwritten books of collected study notes I've been inspired to write while I read library books or books I borrowed from other people that I had to give back. I found studying books by writing notes by hand was a way to put into practice tips another other good ideas that I wanted to really LEARN that was embedded within the contents of the books. 

I read fast, so often I'll read a book at my "regular fast" speed, then go back and annotate and study it the second or third time through it, reading it a few times. I have outlines of books that I thought had information for me that was so important that they deserved to be studied. I wanted to be able to use the book's contents for a tool in the course of my life - books on dialogue skills, on negotiation skills, on communication skills. For that purpose, they needed outlining, practice and revisiting.

I have made handwritten books of song lyrics; books that annotate what's inside of long sound files when I recorded practice sessions where song lyrics first happened, accidentally from complete inspiration. I have notes about how to make clay ocarinas by hand from scratch that an old roommate used to do who was able to...step-by-step telling me exactly how to do it.

I have books of my own poetry, (which doesn't happen that often! But some are even illustrated.) 
I have books of dreams that lingered after waking, (but those are pretty sloppy in appearance.) 
I wrote out in various collected little books project outlines I thought I might want to do but haven't gotten around to doing yet -just in case I do want to do them sometimes in the future. 
I have lists of items I might want to make out of clay that I put thought into designing in original ways if I ever get the access to a kiln...the same involving the use of a 3D printer! (mostly replacement pieces of plastic that I can't get any other way.) 
I have lists of things to buy if I ever get enough money for them; (currently on that list is an electric fold-up bike.) 
I have lists of places I'd like to donate to if I ever have so much money that I might wonder what to do with it.

I have hand-written books like screen-writing for a video series presentation(s) about concepts related to Alexander Technique. (just am finishing one up on "judgment." 
 Perhaps I might get around to typing these promising handwritten words to the computer later and correct for "time of arrival" as I do the other editing challenges that make them easier to understand...since people cannot read my mind. Using the computer, I complete these ideas I wrote out by hand; but I often use handwriting to extend their ideas in situations where I don't have a computer or keyboard at the moment I get the ideas.

I have books handwritten notes in many books about things I'm learning, such as expressions in Spanish and juicy words to learn to beat my friends who enjoy playing Scrabble. 

I have hand written books with notes from counseling sessions, random classes, (such as the one on the differences between wills & "living trusts, even though I don't have enough to "fund" a trust. But my friend does, and now I can speak intelligently with her about that.) 

I collect strange health facts perhaps related to someone I know who needs help on that subject. 

I have hand-written notes from lectures I attended on odd subjects such as Neuroscience experiments or countries I've never heard of previously, just in case I might want to go there and revisit the information someday.

Sometimes it's just faster to use a pen or pencil to illustrate what you're designing rather than trying to use words to describe shapes, relationships, colors, relative volumes, what seemed funny or ironic to me... In fact, my favorite pen to use is one that can be erased like a pencil - but makes a great line that can be easily copied on a photocopier.

Plus, I have drawing books of things, images that I just wanted to hang out and draw because they happened to be there. Many of those are performers on stage, because performers don't object to being looked at long enough to draw them. Being stared at by an artist tends to make strangers feel uncomfortable.

Yes, I write by hand quite often. If writing by hand makes you smarter...I'M A GENIUS by now!!

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Year In Retrospect

I haven't been able to post on my blog here for a whole year. I was unconcerned about having lost access to being able to write online because I keep a hand-written journal of my thoughts and observations. Now typing these stories, thoughts and impressions etc. has become a chore instead of the pleasure of communicating! So I'm just going to go forward from here...and gradually type up a post here and there, back-dating to when it was written in the past year.

I don't know how much it really matters. When someone doesn't update their blog, it disappears from view and nobody comes to look at it. It appears that not many people tolerate reading as an activity...unless it takes something like seven seconds or less - which I hear is about the attention span of a goldfish. They would rather watch a video than read.

I prefer reading  because I can read rapidly; for me it's as if I'm slurping up words as if they are being absorbed directly as if they are my own thoughts. Reading for me is a form of meditation; it's as if the words I'm reading silence the drivel of my own narrative for awhile. What's with the brain doing this "word salad" so constantly? I find myself stretching out the space between the words I'm thinking and it's such a relief when the words come to a halt. Making art contains this sort of relief for me too, as does listening to music. For me, music also has it's own unique shapes and expressions of thinking that goes beyond words, thankfully. That's why I enjoy do much what musicians do as an expression of how they think in the language of music.

I don't always act on what I read, but the ideas soak into me. I find myself in a way "tonguing" about what I read; (not in terms of judgment about whether I "like" it or not,) but in term of where these ideas take me later. It's only rarely that I am motivated to make a judgment about what I read.

The movement trajectory of the ideas are what are important to me. I take the supposition of what someone has written or communicated, supposing it it absolutely true for them.

In a way, emotional truth has more punch than absolute truth. The way humans remember things has to do with putting it in the context of a story - which is why testimonials are so powerful.

I'm aware how our English language is structured as if we're constantly adding to the pool of absolute truth-with-a-Capitol-"T." Because of the suspicion of  the nature of absolute Truth, our job seems to be to determine not if someone else's description of what's going on is believable but how much they are lying - to themselves and to us!

What about the unknown - where everything we learn comes from? 

What's our relationship to that which we don't know yet? 

How can we imagine that everything that's "valid" has already been discovered, described, cataloged and classified?

Sunday, December 29, 2019


Initiated by my Dad's talent for complimenting, I have put quite a bit of effort into the challenge of offering an effective and useful compliment. I believe that it's among our most important jobs as a friend to be able to compliment others. It’s especially valuable to me to get an observation from a stranger who possesses no "vested interest.” They have nothing to gain from offering you approval and/or articulation of a quality they’re noticing that you seem to possess. It’s so useful to get a sense of observations from others about how I "come across" socially, emotionally and creatively.

However, some people react oddly to being complimented. Most commonly, people will avoid receiving a compliment by brushing it off, discounting the value of the compliment, ignoring it, including deciding that the quality of the compliment is "hollow."

Just become someone wasn't the most perceptive or specific about what it is they admire that is the root of their offering, doesn't mean their comment was categorically insincere. If someone offers an unspecific compliment, my next move in that "lame" situation is to open a dialog, saying something like, "It would be more useful to me if you could be more specific?" I might ask them a question to help them to point their observations. Their lack of specifics might mean that they are shy to intrude into the territory of being my judge. When asked about this, especially women will plead that they don’t want to be perceived as vain, proud or better than others.

When being complimented, sometimes people react with, "Why should I care what YOU think?" It's as if a person must have a "right" to offer the compliment! I'm never sure if, by delivering a compliment, I'm setting myself up as an authority who is in a position to bestow the approval that I imply the person supposedly craves from me. I'm just offering an observation.

I love it when people are acute and specific about their observations. Don’t make it “about you,” as in “I like that you...” etc. To just offer what you observe is enough.

At least the intent to bestow a compliment was happening!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Book Review: Guy P. Harrison "Good Thinking"

I've just read a book called "Good Thinking" by Guy P. Harrison at the request of a my best friend who knows I enjoy the topic of thinking skills. This is the rare book that made my judgment hackle rise up. It violated my sense of hypocrisy because of the title being so different from the actual content of the book not containing enough process or tools.

I have to say, that if a writer doesn't have a relationship to what they can learn, I'm not sure that I have much respect for what they communicate that they do know. I mean, can this guy tell me the ways he became convinced that what he does believe is really truth? It doesn't appear so, he just tells me the results of what he knows and tries to convince me he is right.

How did Guy come to his conclusions? He doesn't say, he just writes the content of what he has become convinced is fact and makes fun of people who have not come to the same conclusions as he has grabbed onto as his own beliefs. Granted, some of this fact he relates is interesting because it's about the brain and what's known about it.

This author attempts to convince about what exactly is "good thinking" without telling me what sort of thinking he is actually doing. Rather than just talking about the results of his conclusions, can't he have written a bit more about his process of thinking so someone else can do it instead of having to listen to him pronounce his own results? It appears he cannot - or he all too rarely did not.

It just makes me want to slap him up side the head - because if he did want other people to think...he's going to need to get a bit better at teaching and do less preaching.

(...Which is probably exactly what *I* could stand to do too.)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Word As Bond

Evidently, declaring intention by hand writing will tend to make the declared action happen for people more often than just typing it, or saying it as a commitment This is a brain science fact.  

I know this is a true feature of training oneself through practice or training an animal, (or in advertising or propaganda.) Whatever gets repeated tends to develop and expand. Whatever gets dismissed tends to die off as a behavior.

“Don’t confuse me with facts when I’ve made up my mind” is both an effective denial of distraction and a dismaying close-mindedness. Remember teachers putting the misbehaving kid in front of the chalkboard & making them repeatedly write, “I will...blah, blah blah.” as punishment?

This feature would also be why making a “vision board” of what it is you imagine would be possible makes your desires become more real. As you assemble the images where you imagine and conceive of how your wishes could happen, you're able to make this come true.

In “Six Thinking Hats,” thinking skills, the yellow hat is called the “Logical Positive.” Taking the time to run through a list of logical reasons about the advantages of pursuing a course of action (as I’ve been doing here) creates motivating, creative momentum. This brain science feature even works better if you declare it to others. Since we're using a Six Hat Thinking skill, let’s now wear the red hat for a bit, so I can talk about how I feel about this brain science fact.

I don’t like it. I seem to be wired in reverse! For me, if I declare my intention – I will fight and resist! 
If I make a list of things to do, the first thing I will do is something that is NOT on the list. 

Hearing what someone else is going to do can get reactions from me, ranging from suspicions of self-delusion to total sarcasm. I wonder how they’re lying and find myself reciting a litany of challenges and objections that I would say to myself to discourage myself from disappointment. Cutting off options too soon seems to me to be a pathway to regrets.

Yet, given no choice, I’ll work hard to get around limitations, to design a way through that is uniquely tailored to my specific situation and needs.  What gives?

My old friend Conrad used to make decisions far in advance. He would get going on the pathway of a decision having been made much earlier than I would because he was certain what he wanted. (I’m seldom certain.) Other factors yet to be uncovered might change my mind up until the last moment to decide, and I liked this. Which meant that I didn’t get a long very well with Conrad if we were making decisions together. From watching Conrad, he made me realize that I tend to wait until a situation would “ripen” so I could identify when a decision HAD to be made at the last moment before it got decided by default. These factors influencing decisions might need time to uncover variables that aren’t obvious on the front end of possibilities.

But – I have learned from cognitive bias insights that the longer someone spends considering options, the more they imagine they might have made the wrong choice! A sense of “rightness” grows on people once decisions have been made. Entering into a decision that cannot be rescinded means you find a way to accommodate it and learn to improve it. Why would I imagine that not having options means suffering?

I just find it distasteful that this is true for most people, and could be true for me. A good example is arranged marriages. Socially, it’s been shown arranged marriages work better to minimize divorce rates.

But the whole idea of having your spouse chosen for me is...completely freaky.

I’ve also seen this same factor happen in reverse when it comes to people who feel it’s “progressive” to talk about suicide. Too often they end up killing themselves because they come to view suicide as a fifty-percent possible “option.” It upsets me when I can see them thinking as if the other “options” involving living only occupy the remaining fifty percent...when I know that percentage amount of possible option is probably more like ninety-eight...after all, we all have to die anyway!
Ok, so let’s try these brain science facts for myself and I’ll report on effectiveness. 

I've read that it doesn’t work to type these resolutions; it only works to write them out by hand. To give this a really tricky test, I’ll write about how I just love various forms of exercising. (Which should be a good test, because I usually act as if flailing around physically is a useless way to spend my time.) 

I’m doing this in hopes that it will get me over the hurdle of actually exercising more often - which is supposed to increase our brain abilities. You know, we aren't just meat puppets, only existing to carry our brains around, right?

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Good Samaritan

Was heading uphill the back way past the Cheese Factory to Petaluma in my old truck. I had just passed the turnoff to Nicasio. Some huge hay truck was coming downhill, took the curve too fast & had dumped hay bales everywhere.
I pulled off the road. Then I remembered what it was like coming the other way, where the curve was blind. So I laid on my horn, long and hard.
Just then came a truck pulling a horse trailer downhill around that curve. The trailer skipped onto two wheels, almost flipping, but managed to stay upright.
The driver threaded his way past the bales, just dodging them. I felt sorry for the horse... I was still on my horn until the hay truck driver walked around the curve with a flare.
The dangerous moment was past.
The driver of the horse trailer slowed to a crawl as he carefully made it down the hill. He pulled alongside me. The driver thanked me for the horn. Said he had just enough time to slow down & avoid what could have been a bad accident. Told me I was a smart driver. I told him I knew that curve was blind, and I was glad I didn't have to see him & the horse in a crash.
He went on his way, and I had to wait for the hay bales to get rolled off the road.

Have you ever sized up the situation and done something that saved a stranger?

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Real Death

Parents want so much to protect their kids, when it's often better to share real intensity of life with them. Why do people feel they "must be supportive" by denial and reasonableness when dealing with grief? Said from my own experience, it's possible that your teen has quite a bit more capacity for self-knowledge & the ability to be the one to comfort you than you might imagine as their parent.
I'll tell you about myself. I wouldn't have been the person I grew to be if my parents hadn't died when they did. I would have never known my mom before she died if my dad had not died. For that reason, (and the fact they died exactly 5 years apart) I came to consider it totally fitting that my dad died when he did - when I was eleven. There was no grief counseling my my era.
Grief was a strange gift for me. Because the experience of grief was so real, grieving made me realize how deep my feelings really were. It made me realize my priorities and what my values really were when I had no clue what values even were. I realized how the people who were in my life were important to me. Now I knew exactly how I was going to express what I felt about them while they were alive and sharing time with me now. I was no longer upset about things that really did not matter compared to the requirements of having a real reason to be grieving. I got skilled at uncovering what we have to offer each other now in the time we have. I realized every time friends part, it may be the last time you see each other alive ever again.
My teen friends seemed like indulged kitty-cat pets - I say that with ultimate affection for them. They had never had to confront anything as intense as grief or being physically damaged for life yet. I had to understand that they were scared of me, as if I had a disease - that's why they isolated me...and that was OK. I gained compassion for their fears.
I ran and biked in secret, among other things I did to draw out my feelings. They became delicious, precious, sacred secrets...sources for art. I cannot say I'm "glad" to have experienced grief when I did, but it made me who I am today. My only regret is that from the pain of remembering, I obliterated too many of the happy memories of my dad because the grief was too sharp.
After I'd prayed for years for my grief to end, my disillusionment and denial was answered by an intensity of a consciousness awareness gift that hit me blind-sided. I know now that gift would never have happened had the grief not been there - so for that reason, I am strangely thankful things happened the way they did. My experience of death made my life into a "real life."

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Functionally Creative

A picture from that era I am remembering...

One of the most creatively sustained, productive times of my whole life came at a time when I was highly happy, very busy and superbly functional. I did have this feeling that at the time that I had a tiger by the tail. I did feel obligated to take the good times I was having for the ride it deserved. When it ended, (as I knew it must,) for quite some time afterwards, I was almost drunk from the high of having been able to experience and accomplish so much in such a relatively short period of time. (about 16 months)

Later, I did some experiments to prove to myself that mood (pleasant or unpleasant) doesn't seem to have much effect on my ability to have a creative idea or an inspiring, meaningful experience. I proved that to myself by keeping track of how I felt and rating my relative performance for a whole month. Encouraged by my results, I then went on to debunk many other of my own assumptions such as "I don't have the money to..." and "I can't do this because I'll starve..."

My assumption that got debunked was when I felt "bad," my performance suffered. But that wasn't true - I produced and functioned, without feeling up to snuff at all, even when physically sick. (Although my functioning was marginal at times because when I felt bad, I purposefully cut out many options. But I did the "necessary" ones and still got to experience surprising encouragements anyway, despite having lousy days and often being in a bad mood.) It was surprising how my original assumption of, "I must feel happy-healthy-comfortable in order to be creative" was only a bad mood playing tricks on me!

It appears that this assumption works in the opposite direction for many. Do people merely become creative when they are feeling melancholy? That's not true - for me. It's not true for other people so commonly that Barbara Sher has outlined that same discovery as an exercise in multiple books - I think it was first in her book: "Live the Life You Love."

However, I did read somewhere in brain research that when we feel emotionally affected in a bad way, the body exudes some mitigating coping precursor in the brain that causes us to think about what is happening to us. This causes us to carefully reconsider the effect of our previous actions so we can make what will hopefully be a productive improvement in our circumstances. As my mom used to ask, "Why does the most beautiful music so often sound so sad?"

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fake Truth

What is the relationship between opinion, the interpretation of experience, conviction and Truth? That's gotta have something to do with how we sort our and arrive at conclusions, doesn't it?

 Well, these ropes...are they a circle?

OK, to start out, some terms:
Empirical reasoning: the observation ability that science is based on, but done by you and me.
Personal observation: what YOU subjectively notice because it's important for you. This may contain your vested interests, perhaps tainted by confirmation bias...(which is selectively finding what you expect to find, and dismissing anything else.)

Both of these are considered to be at odds with the golden standard of scientific observation and the definition of "Truth." Technically, things aren't true until a proper science procedures have been followed and documented and published and reviewed by peers. Of course, then there's the other Golden standard of Legal Truth too we might consider... Then there's "Your Truth," there's "What All My Friends Say Who I Believe," and there's "What the News Says." Except now, there's "Fake News." And since the RICO Act, no authority has to tell the truth unless sworn into a court of law.

It gets complicated who's version of Truth applies.

Our culture seems to be getting lost in the effort to reconstruct meaning for themselves. Even if we only speak one language, all of us must take in words and then reconstruct the meaning for ourselves. The way that we put together meaning might not be what was meant. The blame might be on either side - clumsy communication skills or our ability to misunderstand...

For me, personal research is closer to the Truth than most would consider. For me, the sum total of my experience is an operational truth that can always be updated...and does get updated. I'm proud of the fact that I can revise my convictions in the light of new information or experiences. But it frustrates me that when I trot out my findings. People don't listen because they don't have any idea of how much of my life has been devoted to my own pet research subjects. When they get a tip that improves the quality of life for them or solves a problem, they don't appreciate it. It appears that most people must pay in order to pay attention.

So - what is "proof" of reasonable, operational truth that could be revised if needed?

Why - it's the sum total of my ability to integrate the conclusions and insights I've gathered and how I have made use of them. It's the collection of experiences I've actually had first hand, assumptions I've decided to believe, what other people have told me that they believe, what I've read that I can remember. Also it's some of what I've decided to believe purely because it sounds reasonable to me.

In other words, you and I could be wrong, purely through ignorance and faulty reasoning. A field of specialization exists called Cognitive Bias. I find it a very handy field to study and keep in mind when coming to conclusions about the nature of the world and people in it.

So, how do we deal with the accusation of being wrong? How do we revise our convictions? Certainly you aren't a person who says, "Don't bother me with facts when I've already made up my mind!"

Actually, you probably are. (At least in some areas.) More commonly, people don't bother with revision of their opinions and values. Once their mind is made up, that's it. Some people are actually proud of embodying the conditioning of their cultural upbringing. Also, some people are in a situation where they hold convictions because it's a survival strategy so they can't afford to revise their convictions.

What's to blame? Partly, our English language has victimized us. The very usefulness of English is also its downfall when it comes to revising Truth.

I've observed that describing reality seems to be one of the irresistible assumptions inherent within the structure of English...and the nature of reality will differ depending on perception, attitude, and prior conditioning... AND culture.

One of the culprits for rampant miscommunication is that English doesn't have an adequate way to indicate subjective experience and frame uncertainty. English has... "seems to be," "from my point of view" or "IMHO."  Words like "Sometimes" and "Maybe" as examples of qualifiers or frames that attempt to serve this function of describing subjectivity. But these "frames" are scoffed at by the writing professionals. There's a reason for that.

When using those phrases, there's a danger that a writer's motive will be too easily misunderstood for why they are uncertain. These qualifiers are questioned as indicators of uncertainty by editors. Writers will be admonished by editors to come out and dare to boldly say the declaration. It makes it less likely that the challengers will attack.

So what if I wrote what I just said like this: ...describing reality IS an irresistible assumption inherent within the structure of English...? Would stating that sentence with conviction and certainty make it more likely for you to believe me? Are you thinking of questioning my right to say such a thing without a linguistics diploma?

We cannot open our mouths without someone questioning whether or not we have the "RIGHT" to define the nature of what we're talking about. Everyone is trying to figure out how much other people are LYING!

It's gone too far: Scientists work to prove what's True that goes on whether people believe in it or not. Lately, our culture seems to have the conviction that every fact is merely another opinion. It seems as if everyone has their agenda. Those with an agenda have gone too far to have assigned questionable truth to professionals who specialize in a field. The idea is because these scientists are specialists - they have "vested interests" in being right!

Think about it - why did our culture evolve qualifications of education and specialization? If you're a professional, you are not supposed to imply uncertainty when you're attempting to add to the sum total of knowledge. Then if you're certain - you have vested interests... This example of blatant cognitive bias drives me NUTS! 

What about when conclusions are based on many factors? Without these qualifiers, a writer's motive of an open mind won't be adequately conveyed.

What if the writer's subjective attitude is not meant to be considered a rhetorical point delivered with uncertainty, self-effacement or as a disclaimer? "From my point of view" is not necessarily another way of saying "I haven't taken a poll or conducted my research properly." It might be an indicator of being proudly humble - one of those paradoxes of culture that women express, for instance.
For me, using a subjective qualifier is a proud expression of conservatively stating my own open uncertainty toward the possibility of being wrong and openness to change.

But there is a backlash from holding this attitude. Guys like to challenge, they relish jockeying for position as a sign of respect. It just gets old when you HAVE the degrees and professional status to have the right to be believed to say what you're saying and people STILL try to fight you with outdated assumptions.

Look at the life of Edward de Bono for instance. He wanted to call his last book: "It's Too Late To Think." He had written about 80 books on thinking skills, and was never able to get thinking skills as a subject into schools during his lifetime. Bureaucracy is designed to resist innovation.

This resistance has had an effect on me too. Some readers have reacted to my using language in this way because they imagine I'm obligated to talk this way legally. Because otherwise I'm "making claims" that could be proved false. They imagine I'm afraid that I might be sued for making promises I can't keep.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Better Than Christmas

Although this post starts as tragic story, it doesn't end that way. It's about a template you could use that may shift your own consciousness.

    My interest in consciousness began as a means to deal with grief from a parent death as a teen. I had just come out of two lonely two years when I had assumed that denial was my only option, (grief counseling did not yet exist.) I happened to make friends with a girl who lived just a few doors away in my neighborhood. She and I were merely circumstantial loners craving friendly companionship.

    Summer vacation of 1967 started, and we were free to do anything we wanted - such as camp in her back yard where we could talk and giggle all night. At dawn, my best friend had gone into the house to dry her dew-covered socks she'd left outside the tent, and I dozed briefly. When she returned, I awoke...but I awoke in a very different and more complete way than I'd ever felt before.
    Even though I had never done mind-altering drugs, I was in a state that was aptly described by the songs of the late 1960s – a psychedelic, mind-altered state. I was in a state of "Peak Experience" as described by Maslow. I was in a state of "Flow" as described by psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi. Yes, it was a bit like being in love, even though there was no sexual attraction. It was more like being in love with everything and everyone.

    The state seemed to be contagious as I described what I was seeing to my best friend. We walked around looking at everything. The intensity of all colors and sounds were magnified in the overcast morning light and silence. It was a “state of grace.” One thing that was affected is that I could run for as long as I wanted merely for the joy of moving without getting tired or winded. But there were many other strange effects that we noticed, (probably because we were paying attention.)

    This state really got my attention, even though it only lasted for an hour or so the first time. It ended up happening again and again in a sustained way over fifty times over a period of the next three years. I made many observations about its nature as a state of mind, what evoked it into happening and what made it end. At one point, I stayed in this expanded consciousness state for four solid days. (No, I'd never done psychedelics, I'd only heard Beatle songs about it.) The two of us seemed to “catch” this “flow-state” from each other when one of us would shift into it.

    I'm telling you this story for a reason. Strangely enough, we devised a curious way to deliberately, but circumstantially evoke this “inspirational state of grace” that I'd like to share with you. 

    We would choose an exciting event that usually involved travel, such as a concert or a road trip or visiting an out-of-town friend. While doing the practical planning for being able to attend, (since we were teens without a job, it usually involved the work of returning recycling to get the seed money.) We would entertain each other by discussing at length "what might happen.” The more specific we could be about this blow-by-blow fantasy of ours, the better the later effect. We imagined who would say what to whom in exhausting detail as if we were novelists writing dialog. Everything was productive at this stage to exercise our imagination with free rein. 

    It was better than anticipating Christmas day as a kid!

    Then eventually the day of the event would arrive. But we did not merely try to fulfill our expectations. We suspended them! Meaning, we completely surrendered all the investment we put into spelling out what might happen. We had learned that what was going to happen would never be the same as what we had imagined. In a sense, we knew our experience was going to be better because it would be real.

    The important point is the suspending and surrendering left us able to pay attention to what was really happening. The advantage of paying attention meant to us at that time that our recall of the specifics of replay would give us endless value. Talking about what had happened was just as much of a fun thing to re-experience as the experience itself.

    The most unexpected by-product of suspension was its effect on our consciousness. By giving us a huge motivation to pay attention, we got a bonus. Our attention and the ability we had to influence it became magnified. In a sense, we practiced using our attention by being able to suspend it deliberately. 

    The curious thing was that it worked in spite of the fact that we did it as an exciting pleasure. In retrospect,  I realized that our actions really had all of the characteristics of a religious discipline such as using a Koan to encourage a state of enlightenment. In a way, we had created a Koan that had the ability to catapult us into another state of being.

You might want to try it to see if this means to raise your consciousness works this way for you, even though it requires having a companion. For me, writing or talking to myself about the intricate details of specific fantasies anticipating what "might happen" just doesn't work the same way.

Get back to me about this - I'm curious if this process will work for others!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Prevent Cops Lying

Put an end to illegal police searches on your person... with this simple idea.
I'm really upset by the injustices perpetrated by the police subculture. Nothing like being a "haole" in Hawaii where white people are in the minority to give a different perspective about how racism works.
Particularly I'm upset about how police are considered by courts to be "professional observers" and their outright lies are believed over the word of a truthful citizen who are becoming victims of police bullying. Of course you can keep a camera handy, petition, spread news on FB, etc. etc. and other totally generic ways to protest, here's what I decided I could do about it to protect myself and those close to me:
This solution came from my observation that all the police have to do is to LIE about you having consented to a voluntary search. I got a statement notarized and sent it to myself and haven't opened the letter...keep it in a safe place as the "cheap copyright" thing used to be done with a postmark.
This notarized letter said: "I __(your name)__ do not, under any circumstances, give my consent to have my person or my vehicle searched when asked by the police for permission to be searched. When I'm a passenger in a vehicle, I strongly urge the driver to also retain their right to refuse to give their permission for a police search." You can have a lawyer friend look over this statement and edit it for your own purposes.
Making this simple statement in just this way has already worked for me on two occasions. All I did when the police asked if they could search my vehicle is inform them I had made this statement, it had been notarized and I'd sent it as a notice to the Dept. Motor Vehicles in my state. 

The police backed off; the vehicle I was in was "free to go."

Thursday, December 04, 2014


I think our culture of trying to "blame" someone is the culprit of why perfectionism is so rampant. Our culture has also become a culture of specialists, "the niche," the authorities. Generalists are out of style right now...(but I can look for evidence that's changing.) What do you think?

Anyone can blow off perfectionism by declaring, "I don't care!" (I've certainly had to surrender and semblance of perfect for extended periods of time!!)  But how to deal with it when you DO care about quality and you know you have time to make things better?

I've discovered that own desire for quality is an emotion of pride - without fear. It's the fear of the result not being good enough in some way that's the problem.

What does it for me is thinking about what's important for me personally. But I've learned some ways to decide where to draw the line on how much work on perfection is too much in various ways.

  • I try not to use the deadlines of the project to "get myself moving" so I don't have to run faster or more efficiently from having procrastinated. I'm deadline-driven, but I'm getting better and parsing out how much time I've really got left.
  •  I pay attention to how I'm doing what I"m doing, as I'm doing it. (This helps quality to happen by itself, so I make less mistakes by omission.)
  • For me, using a thinking skill helps. For instance, spelling out the factors (by making a list of plus, minuses and "interesting") helps me prioritize what is more important and helps me stick to not wasting my time on what is merely urgent but not important.
  • Sometimes there's a key site of applied effort which I've learned to search for ahead of time - where if I concentrate my efforts there, it acts like a kingpin of influence that has a ripple effect on the whole.
  • If I can, I practice it before the "big show." But sometimes the first time is my best effort. Whether I chose the practice or the "wing it" approach depends on if it's a "hard-wired skill" or a "integrated concert" of many integrated skills and factors.
  •  Maybe I get a chance to decide how much time I really have to improve on quality and I might be able to use the strategy of spreading that time I have to improve quality over the whole project.
  • Finally, I put the desire for perfectionism on cue, and then give the cue when it's more appropriate. In certain situations where I have decided it's appropriate, I just give myself permission to do something with the highest quality and take however much time I feel that the objective needs. Purely because I enjoy being absorbed in making something happen exactly the way I imagine or know it could be. I invest the practice, the dedication, and embrace the effect of long-term, gradual gain. What's the harm in that if I'm not hanging someone else up?

Anyway, just some of how I deal with perfectionism. What activates a desire for perfection for you? How have you managed to make peace with a desire for quality when you know you're going to be falling short?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Love of Camping

 I used to love camping more than anything. My love of being in beautiful places has always been expressed in where I chose to live. Do you lead a lifestyle that expresses itself in where you live?
Currently, I'm living in a beautiful place in Hawaii near a stream, under a roof in a "coffee shack." It's been around two years that I've been carrying my drinking and cooking water from a purified source and using ice in coolers for refrigeration. I have a two burner propane stove top that needs to be lit. My water for washing drips off the roof (fortunately, it's not hot water as it is in some places in Hawaii where the plumbing travels over lava rocks and heats up.) On the Big Island, you can pick your temperature by choosing where you live in altitude, and I'm 1450 ft. up from sea level. This means it never gets too cold and rarely gets too hot. Although I don't have hot water at home, I have been able to get regular hot showers at the huge local public pool, which isn't far away. My place is so remote, I don't even have an address. My friend quips it's "third world middle class" because movies and Internet are possible with the generator running. I probably have the lowest carbon footprint of anyone you know personally.

Spiderweb on the front lanai
Previous to this lifestyle, I lived in an RV while it was parked in a beautiful spot, but without movies and only library Internet. So this particular lifestyle has been a slight improvement. But it's been more expensive, mostly because I'm a half hour drive from a food store. I need a car because it's too far for me to walk straight uphill that is a few miles from where the bus stop is located. But I do enjoy the quarter mile "hike" to my shack from where I park my car by the road. The road to is too rough for anything but a four wheel drive vehicle. Keeping the grass short that protects the road from turning to mud is hot work.

Accepting this lifestyle hasn't been so foreign or unacceptable to me, given my previous love of camping. If I add the time up I've been doing some form of "camping," it appears that I've been living in an extended camping situation for over a decade.

Perhaps because of my current situation, it probably shouldn't be surprising that I don't go camping when I go away on vacation anymore...which is what I used to do every time I traveled anywhere. I think that I'm finally getting tired of camping. So now when I go away, I stay with friends in their houses for a little bit of "civilization" for a vacation from camping. When I come home, again I'm happy to be there, away from the B-flat hum of electricity - for awhile longer. Who would not want to come home to something like this?

Evening Rainbow