Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ideas, thrills and bright colors (enlarge this control- or command- plus sign)

America is over-excited in many ways and for many reasons.  We are a young, gung-ho country and we believe in young gung-ho ways.  We are heavily saturated with media, professional writers, photographers, marketers and scientists dedicated to doing their best to attract our attention.  Biologically, the best way to do that is to shout "Fear!", "Disaster coming!" or that old Aesop warning "Wolf!"

Is there a market for quiet writing?  To some extent, there is and it is probably growing.  I started this blog to advocate for and explain meditation.  But that was nearly a decade ago and since then, the idea and the method of meditating, as well as the justification for spending 10 timed minutes a day, steadily attending to one's breath or other focus and putting aside the incessant stream of mental suggestions to other lines of thought have really blossomed out. Doing that increases awareness of one's self-permitted thoughts and one's ability to achieve inner quiet quickly and deeply.

I like the idea of being in contact with others.  I like moving beyond meditation to simple exploration of experiences and ideas that come up, using basic language and concepts.  The internet is still available to only about 40% of the world's population but it is growing.  There are more and more ways to use the internet.  "Think with Google" has made clear over the last year and a half that a big change is happening as more and more people get smartphones and learn more and more how to use them. The smartphones are powerful and people have them with them to use shopping, conversing, on the spur of the moment.

I plan now to limit my blog writing to simple text writing.  I have been critical of Twitter going from 140 characters per comment to the same idea with a picture added.  Bingo!  We go from a picture to an embedded video.  Just click here!

Lynn wrote her PhD dissertation about hypertext and embedded links.  It is clearly a very good idea but can be overdone, providing distractions built on other distractions.  So, I hope you will pardon me if I omit thrills, shouts, pictures and just send a note of words, letters, plain text.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Mind use, tying shoes

I am just passing notes.  Quiet comments that can be of interest, have been to several people.  I have information hunger and some curiosity but I tend to get more curious about things with more weight, more consequence.  It is not easy to tell what has weighty consequences.  Maybe you heard the old verse "For want of a nail", where a missing nail causes a horse shoe to fall off, leading to an injured mount leading to a downed warrior, etc.  Little things like a butterfly flapping its wings can have significant consequences.

A friend who spent plenty of time in serious politics emphasized that the issues on the minds of the lawmakers are never the issues the public hears about.  I have found that the subjects of interest to me are usually about the B level of general interest.  I am not the only one but what is really, really hot is often more hype than honest substance.

I was born with some valuable aids for my living, including my hands and my mind.  Something fairly simple like tying a shoelace can make a big difference in the quality of a day and the success of a project.  So, if I can tie a bow in a basic string or use my mind to change my view of something that is bothering me, I can make a small physical or mental adjustment in my life and improve its quality, my level of joy and fun or that of those I love and admire, I will.

Another friend recently focused on "How to Live" by Sarah Bakewell.  The London librarian's book is about the life, writings and influence of Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), often considered the originator of essays.  Between considering his own life and the place of writing and reflection in it, Montaigne's ideas and practices, my friend, a very learned man, commented on writing in such a way that I was inspired to see that writing
about one's experiences gives a 2nd life.  The first comes when the life is lived and the second when it is put into writing.

One of the nice things about writing is that producing it generally involves the mind and the hands.

A third friend is considering starting her own blog.  There are, of course, many teachers, books and exercises that try to teach writing.  A good many of them are about writing for profit or popularity.  Some are about writing for mental health, to conquer fears or traumatic stresses that have been experienced.  Writing to keep perspective about one's life and thoughts is a little different.  I am not trying to attract too many readers, I am not trying to create dramatic tension about what will happen to the heroine, I am not trying to increase income from ads.  I am just writing about what I experience and what I think.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

what is happening with my blog posts

As you may have noticed, many of my emails to the blog recipients have been bouncing back to me without being delivered.  The most common identifier of spam is a large number of recipients being sent a BCC message.  The blind carbon copy keeps others from seeing who else received the message and it may also serve to protect the email address from spammers and those who want to misuse addresses for such purposes as threatening or committing crimes in the name of another.  Those characteristics: large number and use of BCC apply to my daily stuff.  


Often, spam has links to herd the reader to more material.  I thought I had sent posts with no internal links but I forgot about the signature at the bottom which is added automatically and contains links to the blog web page, my Twitter account and my own web site.  Besides, I usually send messages in HTML format, the form that allows for links, different fonts and colors and such.  


My blog, my email and my web site all use free Google products and I am grateful for their existence.  I am not complaining and there are a number of things I can try to allow continued mailing to those who want to be on the list.  One of the steps I want to try is using "plain text" format instead of HTML, the format for many web pages today.  Another thing I plan to try it mailing this message in the next few minutes.  I usually send my daily posts out about 6 or 7 AM central US time.  I am curious about whether a different time of day and a simpler format will produce as many rejected, bounced messages.

The Power of 1

Pat is considering starting her own blog.  She wrote this post:

The Power of 1

I do Sudokus, at least one puzzle a day and many days, two.
Most days, I get the puzzles completed without too much difficulty or frustration; however, there are days that require me to use my Wite-Out EZcorrect™, sometimes multiple times (I stubbornly insist on doing all my puzzles in pen!).

As all Sudoku doers know, and for those of you who don't, the puzzles range in difficulty from one star to five, or according some puzzle authors' rating systems:   bronze to gold, number 2 to number 5, easy to difficult, etc., etc.

Although I am always pleased when I have successfully correctly completed a Sudoku, what I have also found pleasing is being able to insert the number 1 in its correct place in each of the puzzle boxes.  For some reason I have yet to determine, there is something I enjoy about seeing the number 1 in it proper places in the puzzle.
Of course, our culture has taught us that being number one means we are the best:  the strongest, fastest, smartest.  Number 1 signifies the winner, the best selling brand, the most widely read/watched/listened to.  The first born child is always number 1 and who can forget their first kiss, first car, or first job!  Being or having Number 1 is (just about) always very pleasurable if not memorable.

Placing the number 1 in my Sudoku gives me pleasure, too.  Perhaps I have taken enculturation in a whole new direction!



Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Twitter: @olderkirby

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

My life in rinsing

(Many bounces again this morning.  Sorry if you have two copies of this. Bill)

Sometimes, we have a class in publishing.  They ask around for an unpublished manuscript and publish it for the experience of actually getting a book out.  Once they published a book by a local faculty member.  I read it and was impressed by the plot and the main character, who was a pitcher, one far above average.  The story of Jim Bowie is about knives and the story of Robin Hood is about archery.  The main character here defeated bad guys (I remember no bad girls in that time of gender inequality) and saved lives by throwing.  He could throw anything and very accurately.  He could knock the keys off of a sleeping jailer and have them slide within reach.

I often think of that specialist and wonder about other specializations.  Catching for one: catch a tip about a plot, catch a fleeing thief, catch on to a way of making a weapon from the innards of a toilet tank.

But now, I am considering a professional career in rinsing.  I believe in rinsing.  You eat a bowl of breakfast cereal and there are going to be little bits of it left in the bowl.  That is the law of entropy at work.  That little bit left behind will harden into a semi-visible crust that is hard to see and hard to remove.  On the other hand, rinse the bowl and it is smooth and ready for a real washing right away.

This morning, we had cottage cheese and Greek yogurt with blueberries and raspberries for breakfast.  Lynn is a potter and is always designing and experimenting with different patterns and surfaces for her ceramics.  Rinsing the bowls (handmade by an excellent local potter), I saw the water removing the layers of milky components in beautiful and eye-catching patterns.  When I grow up, I am going to be a rinser.

I was told about a year ago that marine welders that work on making steel ships earn something like $340,000 a year and only work a few months.  I bet the future of professional rinsing is at least as promising.  I mean everyone who bathes or showers needs a good rinse.  Your average neighborhood rinse doesn't compare to a professional rinse by a professional rinser.  I will soon launch a string of shops across the nation that offer quick and very high-quality rinses at an attractive price.  We will probably have a coffee, tea and martini bar in them, too.


Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Twitter: @olderkirby

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

It all came flooding back

I asked a retired professor to give a talk about his special area of expertise.  He declined, saying that it had been too long since he thought about that subject.  I have experienced the same feeling but I know the pleasure and surprise that can come when a set of knowledge and skills that hadn't been used in decades reveal themselves as still there in the mind.

Sometimes, when I look at a particular volume sitting on the shelf, usually one I used in grad school, where I was when I bought that book comes back to mind.  The insights, new methods and new understandings I learned and later taught may suddenly present themselves, ready to be used again. The physical book itself often serves as a memento and memory prod.

Because I was thinking about the unfolding of a life, which is related to yesterday's post on maturation, I looked up the book from which yesterday's long quote was taken.



Not an exciting looking cover and certainly not an exciting title.  But when I saw this image, I was immediately back in grad school, studying experimental design. This work was originally a chapter of the large and rather unwieldy Handbook of Educational Research.  The editor of such a book, in this case Nathaniel Gage, works at obtaining the chapters from the various authors, editing them, maybe with assistance from others.  Quite a few of the chapters have affected my life and thinking over a 50 year period.

In both Mlodinow's "Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior" and Christian's "Algorithms to Live By", there have been discussions of human memory.  Mlodinow emphasized that the whole mind pivots around and uses the memory, that memory is central to thinking.  Christian discusses similarities and differences between computer memory and human memory.  Reading those books and others, I have come across the name of Eric Kandel, a Nobel Prize winner and author of "In Search of Memory".

Some of the discussions I have read over the years mention the possibility that the brain includes far more memories that can easily be retrieved.  Maybe the indexing system, the guide or database of what we have stored in our memories, gets corrupted or overloaded.  When a scent or a sight or an associated thought suddenly triggers what feels like a whole library of events, sources and experiences, it does feel somewhat like a flood in the mind.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Twitter: @olderkirby

Monday, June 20, 2016

Don't under estimate the power of maturation

Between baby birds and aging humans, it is easy for me be reminded of "maturation."  Once, about 50 years ago, a very good professor asked me to teach a class that he was going to have to miss.  He told me what he wanted the class to learn.  It was the chapter from the Handbook of Educational Research by Donald Campbell and Julian Stanley about how to run experiments in educational research.  I had never heard of the chapter but I read it fully. What a treasure!

Today, seeing baby tree swallows maturing by the hour and thinking of Father's Day, my own father, my stepfather, my fatherhood, it came to mind that maturing, that is, growing older, is a very important factor.  True, the nature of the parents and the house they run is very important, too.  But is far from the whole story.  Their list of important experimental variables that can influence an experiment and cause misinterpretation of the results is:

1. History, the specific events occurring between the first and second measurement in addition to the experimental variable.

2. Maturation, processes within the respondents operating as a function of the passage of time per se (not specific to the particular events), including growing older, growing hungrier, growing more tired, and the like.

3. Testing, the effects of taking a test upon the scores of a second testing. 4. Instrumentation, in which changes in the calibration of a measuring instrument or changes in the observers or scorers used may produce changes in the obtained measurements.

5. Statistical regression, operating where groups have been selected on the basis of their extreme scores,

6. Biases resulting in differential selection of respondents for the comparison groups.

7. Experimental mortality, or differential loss of respondents from the comparison groups.

8. Selection-maturation interaction, etc., which in certain of the multiple-group quasi-experimental designs, such as Design 10, is confounded with, i.e., might be mistaken for, the effect of the experimental variable.

9. The reactive or interaction effect of testing, in which a pretest might increase or decrease the respondent's sensitivity or responsiveness to the experimental variable and thus make the results obtained for a pretested population unrepresentative of the effects of the experimental variable for the unpretested universe from which the experimental respondents were selected.

10. The interaction effects of selection biases and the experimental variable.

11. Reactive effects of experimental arrangements, which would preclude generalization about the effect of the experimental variable upon persons being exposed to it in nonexperimental settings.

12. Multiple-treatment interference, likely to occur whenever multiple treatments are applied to the same respondents, because the effects of prior treatments are not usually erasable. This is a particular problem for one-group designs.

Campbell, Donald T.; Stanley, Julian C.. Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Research (Kindle Locations 116-131). Ravenio Books. Kindle Edition.

Your son may turn out to be a wonderful person but a good deal of those fine qualities he shows may actually come from the design of the human being and the many fortuitous influences he happened to run into while living.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Twitter: @olderkirby

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