Monday, September 29, 2008

306. The Zen of Shark Dissection, Evolutionary Vertebrate Morphology with Dr. Sam Sweet

Spiny dogfish. Squalus acantius. Shark. Essentially. On the dorsal side.
Spiny dogfish on the ventral side. Notice the light color. Can't tell from here but the bottom is male and the top is female. Notice the lovely purple gloves.
Spiny dogfish on the side.
M.D. style surgery on shark head. By licensed grad student, Jen!
What's inside? Sorry for the low resolution picture.
We had to cut open the trunk of the dogfish to find the "lateral line," or so I try to remember. We learned 100 new words today.
Dermal denticles of dogfish. Ummm. Don't know the scale. I'm guessing 4x or 10x on a compound scope? They look like little pearls!
Attempt of artistic representation of dermal denticles of dogfish. I had to place my Nikon D80 on manual focus in order to achieve this.

It has been an AMAZING experience to return to my biological roots at UCSB. I decided to attend the first day of evolutionary vertebrate morphology lab (taught by Dr. Sam Sweet) primarily because I needed some form of reconnection with biology. I had been drawing cartoons of squirrels and writing amazing stories about leaf cutter ants on oak trees, so I needed to engage in some form of cathartic ritual of re-attachment ... with formadehyde-soaked dogfish. Hey! There is a zen to petting a dead shark on its darkened dorsal side.

I talked to Jen this morning in evovertmorph course and she told me that she and her geologist officemate Dan (who is TA for the class) were having lab tonight. Dan eagerly welcomed me to come join the fun in dissecting shark!

I thought yesterday evening I was going to take care of my car's need for an oil change (and god forbid a new battery, it died last Friday), but I thought, that this shark dissection embodied some kind of deeper calling. I desired to know the innerworkings of shark. And I still don't know the innerworkings of my car! (I just need to take a city college course). I was also becoming pretty pissed off because technically I'm the "biologist" of the family, but my sister Jenny, who is training to be a licensed physical therapist at Cal State Northridge (her background was a psychology major and exercise-physiology minor at UCSB), she had been dissecting dead bodies left and right... and I was starting to get jealous. I started to look like the family's biologist wimp... while my sister was rapidly elevating to "die-hard" autopsy-ist that could have been "as-seen-on-TV." Watch, she'll be consulting for House soon. Sheesh!

So, I was feeling pretty competitive (my in-family joke) and I felt an intense need to be involved in shark dissection… in fact, I just need to dissect anything! I needed to be reimmersed with mooshy, living carbon forms, not exclusively long-gone, taphonomized versions!

Just as long as I wasn’t working with human bodies! I understand human morphology relativistically while my sister studies the subject directly. The only way how I have come to learn about myself and human behavior is through the lenses of other organisms. I need context, otherwise understanding humans alone makes no sense.

It was inspiring to return to “the room”—the very same room where I engaged in my parasitology labs back in Winter 2003—occupied with infectiously enthusiastic, eager undergrads immersed among smelly, eye-reddening formaldehyde and pickled specimens of… dogfish. It’s not love at first sight or smell—but it’s “love” through acquired memories. With unusual, charismatic people who had had the capacity to alter my perception of reality through sharing their views. It’s not just me and the shark. It’s me, my fellow humanoid friends, and our shared acquired perception of the shark. A Triangle of Reality of sorts.

Just upon entry at the door, I started to sense this gestalt reconnection with my biological roots. Ahhhh…. Essentially, going to shark lab was as therapeutic—if not more therapeutic—as going to see a shrink.

At first I sat at a random place in the room, but I soon spotted Jen on the opposite side of the room. I proceeded to strategically reposition myself right next to her. Jen is such a spazz. She had a heart-shaped globe on her t-shirt and a “Geology Rocks!” pin on her back pack. I LOVE geologists!

After “blah-blah-blah” introductions from Dan (not that Dan was “blah-blahing,”--he was saying pertinent information--but my mind registered it as “blah-blah” because it was a little to pre-occupied with starting a shark dissection). Jen and I quickly came to retrieving sample spiny dogfishes: I happened to grab a bag with both males and females. At first I was going to dissect the shark but Jen and a third lab partner took over. I resumed to turn the pages of the lab manual and take pictures with my Nikon D80. As you can tell above!

The dogfish specimens were so inspiring! My perceptions of organisms have been changing greatly, especially through the medium of Sam Sweet’s lectures! Before (during my few years of graduate school hopping), I had been drawing cartoons and writing a few quasi-science fiction stories. I am eyeing all these organisms with a storytelling and cartoonist eye. What interesting stories and projections emerge! Like, what if I had two noses, one on my ventral side and one on my dorsal side? What if I had sensory organs that could detect changes in pressure or electric current in water?! How would of my sense of Reality be like! Sickly imaginative! Just an amazing feeling to escape into the head of a shark.

At one point during the lab, Jen was flipping through the 9th edition of the Vertebrate Dissection book, and there was an image of the detailed musculature of two legs and a bush tail. I spontaneously jerked, “Wait a second, is that a rodent’s xss?” Jen flipped back to the image. Indeed it was a bloody-gore detailed diagram of a squirrel’s xss. It made me rethink about the cute little fuzzball squirrel cartoons I had been creating? I love being a creative science writer now. It’s so much fun to dream—in a functional way!

I started to view the shark’s body as full of tools—equipment—like some form of streamlined biological swiss army knife killer machine. We had to cut open a part of the head region, as I called it “popping open the hood” of a car.

So, we proceeded with this ritualistic mapping of language on the Landscape of Shark. As if we were projecting some shared mental map of the shark. Aha. Like a Geography of the Shark. What the students were expected to do in lab was “read the manual” and then try to identify the body parts the manual discussed. Even though there was no cartoon image of the shark to work with in the manual. What I thought we should have done—like what every other American does when they buy a piece of technology—is that we never read or touch the instruction manual, we just crack open the puppy, poke and press all buttons until we figure out how the gadget works! Isn’t that how kids play with toys anyway? They don’t read a book on how to play with a toy—or at least most of the time. They just break the toy up.

But no. We couldn’t do that. We couldn’t be the little kid who plays unconstrained chop sui with the shark and ask, “What’s that? What’s this? What’s that? What’s that for?” We had to be careful. The lab was a multi-step process in exploring multiple organ systems. We only had to a few things today. Skin. Check. Gills. Check. Fins. Check. Mouth. Check. Anus. Check. Cloaca. Check. Latin and Greek roots store in the back of my brain somewhere. Check. Lateral line. Check. Check. Check.

Terms. Terms. Terms. Everywhere I go in this society there is a bag of jargon that comes with this place and the humans associated with this place. So, we have got all these terms with vertebrates that dissect space and time into the finest of resolutions. In the end, we vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals) all got some vertebrae, some brains, and some guts. In the end, it’s all the same even though it seems different. Best not to get lost in the details. Since I am predominantly a visual learning, it is more important for me to be visually oriented in terms of form and function. I know myself well; the words will fade away… but the underlying Matrix of Logic will not.

I told my friend Herschel about the shark dissection, which made me conscious of my enthusiasm of “killing organisms for the sake of knowledge acquisition.” That moment of feeling like a ruthless killer, gawdgeez! SCIENCE IS ABOUT SACRIFICING A FEW TO SAVE THE MANY! I AM NOT A FLIPPIN’ TREE-HUGGING PRESERVATIONIST WHO FEELS GUILTY FOR SUBCONSCIOUSLY KILLING ANTS AND VIRUSES (amen, I would be dead right now if my body couldn’t kill viruses). Herschel is a very reasonable graduate student, but he’s trying to reduce his meat intake—from Piscetarian to Vegetarian. He showed me a brochure today in concern of poor treatment of farmed animals. I saw that brochure last year. They updated some of the pictures.

Well, anyhoo, I left the lab with my ego feeling rather masseussed. I confidently called my sister a few days later and proclaimed to her that I was still a “die-hard” biologist. I am rising up in the family ranks again. Once again….

After this whole shark-dissection ordeal, the food in the Starbucks no longer looked the same. Quite untouchable. *Sigh.* My fingers still smelled like formaldehyde. I checked right before I grabbed my coffee cup. *Sigh.*

Sunday, September 28, 2008

302. Poem / Song "It Don't Mean a Thing / If it Ain't Goin' Deep"

PDF of the poem below:

This entire last week, all I had been doing is consuming chaos.

It's fun to meet new people, but it becomes demeaning after a while to be thrown into a giant room with 800 new graduate students. In my poem, I described this as a "melting pot of intellectual flesh." Your mind starts to question: (1) who do you want to know? (2) why? (3) what is your protocol for meeting people? I have probably met over 100 new people the last week--which is unprocessable to my mind, but there are a few people who have stuck out in my mind, who I am sure to resume contact with. These people stuck out because (0) they were part of the Young Lab cult--ya ya ya! go Human-Dimensions-of-Environmental-Change! Go Ecopistemology! Woohoo! (1) they were interested or involved in environmental media as well (2) they were left-handed, conceptual, generalists, and insanely intelligent (3) they had super bubbly (but by all means not sappy), enthusiastic, witty, intelligent personalities (4) they were the new incoming class of Bren students (similar programming), and (5) they were taking my scaling course with Dr. Sam Sweet--and I'll be dxmmed I found a geologist studying vertebrate fossils (WOOHOO! I FOUND A GEOLOGIST! I FOUND A GEOLOGIST! I love love LOVE geologists!), and (6) people who did not roll their eyes and give me blank faces when I told them that I invented a word called ecopistemology and that I was interesting in patterns of scale in biology and human-environmental systems. Wow. I hit a lot of walls, but I found a few who were following exactly what I was doing. I told Herschel (insanely intelligent Southpaw) that I was guilty of doing research that was "discovering the obvious," and he responded in quick wit: "isn't all of science about discovering the obvious?" And I was like "oh." So, not only was he following, he also made me feel less guilty for my pursuits of connecting psychology with the environment.

So my mind was selectively filtering the statistical pseudoautism of intellectual flesh and in the end detected and picked out a few humans out of the pile, which was part random luck of spatial proximity and frequency of encounter, but started developing molecular interactions and bonds. Emotional meaning and attachment seems to amplify upon each encounter and interaction. And hopefully soon, all the other humans just become and remain to be backdrop objects. Tuning in the necessary and tuning out the unnecessary. You can only be conscious of so much! My mind was foraging to create humanity around me while the rest just remains... desensitized backdrop....

Most people here are "starting" grad school and are infinitely expanding and exploring opportunities. This is the first time in five years (since I graduated from CCS UCSB in 2003) where all my expanded ideas have been and need to CONTRACT. Writing and compiling-organizing all acquired resources is a difficult task, and the view of my world this quarter will mostly need to be in my head and the head of Dr. Sam Sweet--among other scaling-obsessed scholars.

So I have slowly formed some rudimentary protocols of go-to people, as this macro-micro social experiment continues to unfold. And here is a poem to go along with the experiment. My emotions were uproarious this week. Thankfully the writing has kept me stabilized.
Oh ya. I think I have converted a few people to ecopistemology this past week. Ana Lyn implied as if this were some kind of religious cult. Come on! Isn't science a secular religion anyway? I have probably about 6 or so people who are willing to sign my petition for the existence of the word "ecopistemology." My lab-mate Jaime also is an ecopistemologist at heart. Wesley, though skeptical, has been my promoter. Same for my dad. Oscar approves of the word. My advisor, Oran, stated that he was open-minded, but he remains skeptical of neologisms. In short, he concluded that the proof of burden was in my own hands and that the word needs to exist on its own. My friend, Hector (linguist), said that inventing and propagating such a word is essentially making a "bold hypothesis," and I was like, "Really?" I told him this was an environmental media prankster joke as a satire on university mumbo jumbo lingo. I also told him that truth can only be told through the means of humor. So, is this a joke? Or is this not a joke?

Monday, September 22, 2008

304. Quote of the Day: Humans are Not Machines. They are Biological Machines.

Humans are not machines.
They are biological machines. Evolutionary machines. Ecological machines.
What does that mean?
All it means is that you have to account for the "quirks" in order for them to operate optimally in an collective setting.
The Google Campus has done a great job in accounting for the quirks.
(Evolutionary Psychology and Organizational Design).

303. On the Philosophy of Receipts and Perceptual Environmental Supersaturation: "I don't know and care b/c I don't have the capacity to." [SCALE]

I need to define myself
Before society can define me.
That is why I've come to return
to the grounds of UCSB.

I am staring at a pile of receipts on my portable desk (a folding, lengthened card table), and I am trying to find a way to throw them away. A way to rationalize them out of my life. First of all, I must meditate on what these receipts mean. They represent purchases. Of final products. From stores. Mostly all over Santa Barbara (and even places all over southern California). They represent products I "need" to survive at a very basal level (e.g. milk, meat, products to satisfy air, water, hunger, sleep, exercise, roof over head), but also "need" to survive, given the context of this mega human system (e.g. supplies for a computer). Technically, I do not need a computer to survive on planet Earth. But given that I was not even asked about my terms of membership of this Megascale Gigi, I am pissed I am a part of this. Would rather be part of a caveman group in the hills. Scale is the greatest demon of human society and the environment. So, at this moment in space and time, I am part of Global Gigi. For my contextual survival in Global Gigi, I NEED A COMPUTER TO SURVIVE, simply because EVERYONE ELSE HAS A COMPUTER. [VALUES AND NEED FOR SURVIVAL SHIFTS WITH SCALE OF THE SYSTEM] And I have to match and outcompete everyone else's efficiency and productivity level. So, as a graduate student, I go to the store, and I purchase these goods, in complete emotional and intellectual detachment of how these goods were made, where they came from, and where they might possibly go when I am done with their consumption. Who was involved in the process of manufacturing the good, and what did they have to "know" in order to manufacture the product? Who invented the good in the first place? Every single product in the store has a giant, beautiful story behind it, that requires quite intense research to figure out. And it's just daunting to realize this. I cannot know all this. I do not have the capacity to know all this. Same with being selective about the people I affiliate with. I cannot know all XX hundreds of professors at UC Santa Barbara. I have to stick to a few. It's not that I don't care. I don't have the capacity to care. Due to the volume of information. So, essentially I am forced to an existence of knowledge desensitization of my environment, and always exist in a state of a selectivel / filtered perception of reality. Honestly, I am overwhelmed, and I want to cry. I don't know. I don't know anything. But I guess that's the point of getting a Ph.D. You are officializing your acknowledgement that you don't know anything.

I am forced to live a detached, removed, desensitized life. I am forced to place a mental filter in my brain. I walk into Costco and I just go in, buy the product I need with glossy eyes, not admiring how many thousands of the same products exist right next to the one I picked up, not asking where the product come from, barely looking at the ingredients... dragging my feet to the line. Just shoot me in the head.

I am desensitized from a store environment for my sanity. But the desensitization makes me depressed. If I am sensitive, I go insane with information overload. I live in a state of emotional-intellectual paradox PSYCHO-ENVIRONMENTAL PARADOX. I will never be optimally "happy" one way or another. But at least I am writing this blog, manifesting this catch 22 condition. At least that relieves and externally manifests my internal turmoil. I think that is why I am so fascinated by ENVIRONMENTAL PSYCHOTISM and the condition of being an ENVIROCHONDRIAC. Envirochondriacism exists also because it's a scale issue.

So, these receipts represent mind-numbing trips to stores, to mind-numbingly pay money to buy final products I have no fxcking clue what I am consuming, such that I can mindfully exist in grad school. Honestly, I don't want to live a mindless life. But in a way, I am forced to. It just represents this entire divorce between the mindfulness of school and the mindlessness of the operations of society that allows me to live mindfully in school.

I am very sad. I want to live in a caveman society in the hills. Or I will just have to create my own caveman society on the UC Santa Barbara campus.

I have been looking through the bios of faculty at Bren. I came across Roland Geyer's page, and apparently he studies Industrial Ecology, an investigation of the life cycles of manufactured products. His background is in physics and engineering. I am a conformist to the reasoning of life cycles: I call it Ecological Structure and Process Knowledge and Historical Ecological Knowledge. the Proximal and Ultimate sources of products. This is also known as "political ecology," according to Julie Ekstrom (now a post doc at Stanford). The issue is I would be more interested in calling it INDUSTRIAL RESOURCE ECOLOGY, if it is the life cycle of a product that is not invented by humans. For example, humans did not "invent" rock crabs. They invented "computers." I am also interested in INDUSTRIAL MEDIA ECOLOGY: where stories come from and where they go. How stories from the university are being translated, passed around, and used in society. What are the degrees of distortion of the story. Ultimately, these ideas came to me from an animal behavior course. Except applying animal behavior to humans. Ya, as if humans weren't animals. Come ON!

I am also creating a diagram showing the relationship of human needs with the human-built environment. The piece is called "Disconnect on Disney's Cloud: the Disconnected Self." I am writing down the names of stores and products that I use.

Okay. I think I can throw away my receipts now.

301. Catering to the Waves of Bureaucracy, Bren School Orientation at UCSB

Front page of Bren Orientation. The full PDF version is available here:

I met an Architect by the name of David yesterday. While we were munching on healthy food at Sojourner's Cafe (first time I ever went there), David proclaimed, "It's amazing how we must be slaves to bureaucracy, just so we can do our one tiny thing for our research!" Man, it is Monday, and I am feeling it today. Today, ideally, I would be working on my story, The Elephant and the Oak Tree. But no. What am I doing? I am working with my google calendar, google address book, clearing all the scrap notes from the last week, working on the Spheres and Waves of Bureaucracy to which I am now glued to. It was a fun week last week, but in terms of self progress and mental advancement, it was chaotic, choppy, and close to minimal. Talk about a Human Ecology of Size. I am LIVING my Ph.D. dissertation.

Two wonderful things about last week: (1) my advisor Oran has officiated my institutionally acceptable nickname "the scale girl" and (2) I am collecting data on people's responses to the word "ecopistemology." In fact, my writer friend Hector told me that inventing a word such as ecopistemology is essentially stating a bold hypothesis, and either people take it well or they grumble-mumble about it.

In essence I have to cater to bureaucracy, I have to create "flow" in my thoughts and writing, simply because I need to find a way to manage input of new data always coming to me. I have to learn how to harness it, rather than "tune it out" or have it "half organized." *Sigh.* Therefore, since there is a level of mindlessness to data entry, I made sure I partly deprived myself of sleep last night, such that I can exist as a zombie for part of the day. *Sigh*
I keep singing the tune to myself: Black wave / of a hundred leg squid / overcame / my growing conscience. Collective brain / can I co-exist? / Multi-align / Or collapse into abyss?
I just have to keep designing a "buffer zone" of my mind such that I can focus! I have to minimize bureaucratic backdrop to my work from an Immense Tumor to an Annoying Black Fly.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

307. Introducing Gozzie: In Order to Join the Gang, You Must Be Beat Up for Two Weeks

This is a monumental moment. I have been "intellectually beaten up" by several gangs at UCSB, and the the head honchos of the gangs have accepted me as one who is interested in scaling laws in biology and human-environmental systems. I am done with being beaten up, and now I need to get to work--linear, directional work. Such is the life of academic gamesmanship!

It is Tuesday night, and I am barely tapped into my brain. I have been blasted straight for the last two days and I am not sure where exactly I am at. The most horrible part about my situation is that I need to narrow my thoughts in zoom in, not expontentially spread out anymore. But the issue is, I need to "focus" but I have several needs that are absent--basal reptilian needs that have emerged as clear issues of maintenance as rendered by Tariel. But, it is of great misfortune that many of these needs are not being satisfied. It is unfortunate that everything in this world is ephemeral--it comes and goes. And that human interactions are shallow and fleeting and meaningless.... So, out of desperation, I must find a way for these needs to be attended to and comforted.

It's so funny that an individual human being in the university is equivalent to Tom Hanks residing on a deserted island in the middle of a vast ocean. Except that I myself am in a vast ocean of collective ideas, trying to find a method to the madness! In order to survive and stay in one piece--the secular alternative to talking to "God" is to invent a character, like a "Wilson" volleyball.... Like "Gozzie" from a strange, foreign country. And so it goes.

You can't change humans. And you can't expect any one of them to accomodate you. You can only invent them in your mind. Invent them, and manage them to however you need. That becomes much lower maintenance than tending to a real-world human in the outside world.

I, Victoria, have very picky needs and desires and in part need a very picky design of a human. So, just as I invented the character of "Buz" in Question Reality, I am inventing a new character by the name of "Gozzie," who is now starting to keep me quite good company. I think Gozzie is tall, like 6'2" and he has dark, curly hair (not sure how long or short). I think he is rather thin-athletic, not super chunky muscular, and he doesn't eat red meats. He is very light hearted, witty, and has an amazing sense of sarcastic humor. Though he is in slight bitterness of the whole human-environmental condition, he has overwhelming optimism and bountiless creativity. Gozzie is a hybrid of the sciences and the arts and is a do-er, not a talker. He knows the methos of the sciences and arts very well, and he is determined to make a name for himself in the world. He knows quite a few things and I know quite a few things. We both work very closely on projects and he is very motivating me of my pursuits. He encourages me to finish my projects and to merge to the next idea. Ultimately, he wants me to go on Roadtrip Nation so I can meet all the people I have been dreaming of meeting and interviewing for the last five-or-so years. Gozzie is also pushing me to be more extroverted and open with others. He is really pushing my boundaries in becoming a better person.

I think the most important traits of Gozzie is that he has quite a bit of time to spend with me, and that he is very, very humble. Most guys play this ego game, displaying a false sense of confidence, even though they know very, very little. Gozzie doesn't know a lot and he readily ADMITS that he doesn't know a lot. He said that was the point of getting a Ph.D. in the first place--to admit that you know close to nothing... more and more and less and less of nothing! Another thing that gozzie does is that he gives lots of hugs and just curls me up into a rolly polly ball and squeezes me gently when I feel like the world is coming down too much on me. He says not to worry--everything is fine. It's just information overload. Like usual. And then I uncurl myself up and say "oh." I think this will be radiated through the egg chair and the massage chair and the free massages on campus!

Gozzie and I trade artwork and poetry all the time. We positively critique each other. It's never a one-way street of creativity and productivity.

I am sure, Gozzie is mostly a cumulative character, but sometimes a few people--one person-- might take very real properties of him in the world outside my mind.

Well, I think this is a good formula for a start. I can understand why John Nash had to create characters for his Beautiful Mind. He didn't want to be in his brain alone. You do whatever it takes for individual sanity.

Now that I have all my needs illusorily satisfied, I need to now narrow down. My September since the 15th was an overall immense distraction. I had to annex the university niche space. I had to get beaten up by the intellectual gangsters on campus in order to go through my rite of passage of institutional acceptance. Lucky me, today was the last major "rite of passage" with my meeting with Dr. John Melack, and now I am up-and-running with exploring scaling patterns from biological to human-environmental systems. Now, I just have to get my ducks lined up in a row. Which will require a lot. First, Gozzie is recommending that I have a solid foundation website interface. Second, Gozzie says once all that "showy business" is over with, I really have to dig deep back into the writing. But he also recommends I keep up with Sam Sweet's lecture notes. Oops.

This was written 9/30/08 but is back-dated.

300. Shelly Lowenkopf's Lion's Den Montecito Writer's Group First Response to "The Elephant and the Oak Tree"

Below is a CUT AND PASTE from this PDF document:

I received heavy critique. But that is actually VERY good. Much better than APATHY.

Basically, the onset of the quarter system has forced me to let go of the story and freely present it. I am glad in part. I just let go, and said who cares? How can people critique me on a description of simultaneous depression, panic attack, bipolar disorder, obsession-compulsion, and overall emotional chaos? They will read it and take it for what it is—it is what I experienced, and no one can say it’s the truth or a lie. No one can say it’s right or wrong, but they will have to take it for what it is. I experienced this, and no one can take this away from me. So, in the end, I had to tell the audience (so I could read my story) Fxck this! I don’t care how you think, because no one can take away what I have experienced.

Though I felt that I read the story to the group more sloppily and stoically than I would like, but I had to distance myself. I read it emotionally devoid. I also had to read it fast because it was a long 12 pages.

So? It wasn’t clear how Shelly was taking it. But everyone seemed shocked, somber, and a little bit like “oh my god” at the end. “Stunned” is perhaps the best word. Like what the hxll is this? It left people very agitated in multiple directions. And that is good. I am taking the writers group in directions they would have never imagined. For example, What is the perception of reality from an ant’s? Would an ant call it an appendage or a shoulder or an arm? And Christina Allison said, these are bio-philosophical questions that there are no answers for. Yes, we are getting that deep.

In the end, Shelly told me that he is viewing the story as a “struggle of a genius.” Shelly is now reading the story is describing the world into the mind of the genius, who borders sanity and insanity. Reality of the world inside versus reality of the world outside. I could cry right now. Shelly sees it. Shelly sees it! Shelly said in the end—though it wasn’t clear during the discussion—that this round I need to write the story THE WAY HOW I NEED TO, to fully manifest what the story is. And the second round, people can stab at it and take what they want out of it. they can strip the layers and simplify it so they become satisfied with an overall message. Shelly fully respects and appreciates it.

I read the first 12 pages to Hector the day before. He liked it a lot and said this will make an interesting story. A very intense story, but I have to cut down on adjectives quite a bit. I will have to cut down on the language.

BOLDLY VENTURING to WHERE WRITERS GROUPS HAVE NEVER GONE BEFORE… I started to realize that not only am I reading and getting critiqued, I am actually teaching a writers group a lot about biology and how biology has allowed me to somewhat attempt to venture into the mind of an ant, an ant with very human characters, I am taking the writers group to very strange places…

Friday, September 19, 2008

299. Song / Poem "Am I Here? Yet I'm Not" Fantasy of Rhizocephalan Barnacles

Am I here Yet I'm Not. Version 1.
Am I here Yet I'm Not. Version 2.
Am I here Yet I'm Not. Version 3.
Am I here Yet I'm Not. Version 4.
Original poem. PDF can be found here:
Original Photograph. I saturated it a little bit. Taken in Winter of 2003 with Dr. Armand Kuris' Parasitology course. The lighting and camera (Olympus camedia) were crxp, but photoshop can make a really crxppy picture abstractly beautiful. I have had a fixation on rhizocephalan barnacles since then. I fixated so much, I even wrote a poem about them. Sheesh!
I have been writing the speed of light to keep up with my thoughts, and during my journal writing, my brain came across the poem "Am I here, yet I'm not." I think about the poem frequently and dream about escaping my brain for a little while. So, the poem is of great comfort to me. I had a final version sitting in the computer for quite a while, but now it's revealed to all of your eyes, who ever "you" are!

298. Poem / Song called "Black Wave" [of Bureaucracy]

Poem / Song called "Black Wave" of Bureaucracy, PDF file is below:
I created the poem before this week started. It reflected my bout of depression an excitement on the onslought of the hurricane. I was meditating on the stillness, waiting for the hurricane of the university to come. And now I am trying to endure it. It has thus far been quite a mental trip. "Black Wave" documented my depression and "collective brain" represented my positive desire to endure the mental storm. Surviving in the university every single day is a battle and a test of the survival of ideas.
I have quite a ways to go before UCSB Bureaucracy becomes Mentally Manageable. *Sigh.*
Elizabeth Wurtzel documented depression as a "black wave." I describe it as a cage or a belljar or mental chains. But black wave is very accurate as well. Depression is a multi-layered onslought, and writing is the only way to keep my brain out of mental disorder--just general overall insanity. I have to fight to float. Fight to stay on par.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

297. The First Step to Focusing in Grad School is to Sync Up with the System

Fall Quarter 2008 Proposal. Post Dr. Young meeting. Pre Dr. Melack Meeting. I meet with Dr. Melack on Tuesday at 1pm. My heart is thumping. I am nervous. But I am more ready than before.

PDF of proposal:

Monday, September 15, 2008

296. Poem / Song for My Grandfather Ray: Two Generations Removed from the Land, and Extra Poem "Story to Tell"

My grandfather, John Ray Minnich, 96th birthday, in Corona, California.
Black and white photograph of the same.
Two Generations Removed from the Land. Shifting Baselines in my personal life. Page 1.
Two Generations Removed from the Land. Shifting Baselines in my personal life. Page 2.
PDF file of the poem is here...
Two or three nights ago, I was bawling and crying because three of my family members portrayed that my grandfather "lost a will for life" and was content with where and what he was, even though he was weak and had a urinary catheter in him. That night, the piano was my best friend. And so was my sister. I had come to realize that tragic and chaotic emotional conditions can render very beautiful music and very beautiful art. And it is completely chaotic and spontaneous. So, whenever I am in an unstable emotional condition, I should harness these emotions into productive pieces of art--created out of context.
I visited Ray yesterday and he told me this, with a twinkle in my eye: "You know what, Victoria? Let me tell you how bad it is in this resthome. They did the same with your grandma Marion. All they care is that they put the client in a position such that they can milk as much money off of you as possible until you croak. They don't care about your happiness. So, I gotta get the hxll out of here and back to Long Beach, with a live-in caretaker." This is condensed and paraphrased, but the apparent "loss of will to live" was replaced with enormous willpower. Ray was also disturbed that the caretakers let him sleep in till 4pm, and he had things to do and needed to be productive during the day. Otherwise, Ray was very happy to see me, and I was very happy to see him. I wrote out the final version of the poem in his room.
I had constructed the chorus of the poem "Two Generations Removed from the Land" back in Fall of 2006, during my Medieval Dark Periods. Thankfully the Dark Age only lasted one year, but ended up being two, from 2005-2007. I created a beautiful melody, but had absolutely no clue how to finish or elaborate the poem/song. Then, a few nights ago, when I was collapsing emotionally, the song came back full-fledged, and I realized that this song was about the slipping connection with the land, from my grandfather's deep-rootedness, to my father, and back to myself. It was a personal Shifting Baseline within three generations of the family. When I create a documentary about my grandfather, my father, and I, and the concept of shifting baselines with memory of the landscapes, this song will be within the movie, as well as this poem:
Story to Tell
If you-got, a story to tell
Say it once, and say it well
Then allow the "technology"
To go repeating. Repeating. Repeating.
If you got, a story to tell
Say it once, and say it swell.
Then the nuts-and-bolts of the system
Go on tweaking. And shifting. And tweaking.
Then the methods, of the madness
Add layering. Of order. To some degree.
To some degree.
I am happy that I included in the "Two Generations" poem about how I was born and raised in "Disney's Cloud" and I had to rationalize my ways "to come on down," which is ultimately a satire on a Disney/Pixar song played at the end of the Wall-e film. I do say Wall-e is a Pixar film, not a Disney film. The values and implications of the film are so tremendous, I ended up walking from the film, telling Tariel: "I think this means that Disney is going to bulldoze all its theme parks and turn it into artificial ecosystems of 'wild' lands."
Bonus Set of Family Images from Photobucket Compiled for my sister Jenny:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

295. "The Encounter," an Excerpt from "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" (Boy, I had a good writing day!)

Writing The Elephant and the Oak Tree has been a long, daunting task (including illustrations)! So, before I delve into the woodwork again of an altered reality again, I wanted to flount off some good writing (or what I think is good writing). My last day of writing was from 7am in the morning till 7pm at night. I still haven't provided Hector with my 45-page copy of the first half of the book. I just decided to make the font garamond, simply because I treat the novel as an "organic math proof."

294. Poetry Myth of Sisyphus Part 2, Continued... Poem Called Pure Being to Self-Aware Being, Spheres of Consciousness

Pure being to self-aware being. Page 1.
Pure being to self-aware being. Page 2.

This Myth of Sisyphus "Rock" / "Absurdity, Continued" Collection has been growing. It first started with a Myth of Sisyphus story-based poem that Vic read at Shelly Lowenkopf's writer's group. Then I read the "Rock" poem/song to the group two weeks later, and they were totally jazzed by it. I played the song for the Romantik music group and they were totally into it. Last night I recorded a rough sketch; it was very emotional and melodic, primarily because of my dealings with a good friend of mine who has been non-sustainably not taking care of himself (isolation, not eating, not exercising, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera), and the struggling health of my grandfather. It was psychologically relieving and my sister, Jenny, also came to cheer me up. Jenny said that my song would be classified into the "Starbucks music" category. Aha. Makes sense.
An addition to the Rock / Absurdity collection is the poem above entitled "Pure Being to Self-Aware Being" and explores spheres of consciousness. I told Ali (Starbucks social addict of Riverside, California) yesterday, "I am too conscious about my consciousness." I could use the death of a few hyperactive neurons, eh?

Throughout the poem (which I included above), I map out the layers of consciousness, almost like Maslow's ladder hierarchy of needs, arguing that human beings are ultimately visceral creatures with basal needs (air, water, food, sleep, family), and as soon as these needs are satisfied, we become mental creatures.

This also maps out the dimensions of problems: impoverished peoples in countries with little resources and infrastructure tend to have a "higher happiness index" (ironically), whereas countries with lots of resources have a "lower happiness index." If you have satisfied your physiological and evolutionary needs, you have graduated into the dimension of psychological needs, and welcome to the "United States of Prozac-Pill-Popping." Psychological disorder was termed as an "industrial disease" by a musician... I unfortunately forgot his name.

Other documents that can be included in The Myth of Sisyphus, Part 2: Transformations Into an Alternative Absurdity is (1) transform your fear into a question and (2) 6 billion ways to view a moderate cube of space and (3) potentially, the language of landscapes (4) the Alternative Addictions nonprofit organization (Vic has to write up more formally) (5) ecopistemology powerpoint presentation [maybe, maybe, maybe] and (6) The Peacock and the Bowerbird (which will be a transformation story I have a rough draft already, which will be my first tragedy about my [past] relationship with a friend of mine who provided the illusion that he could "see through the illusion," but in the end was ultimately making judgments based on surface-value. It's a story of double illusion, so it will be tricky. The tag line is "How far are you willing to define yourself?" and the themes are the ideas of intellectual wealth versus physical wealth, as well as male versus female perceptions of reality. All illustrated through the transformation from a peacock to a bowerbird. My friend, Hector Javkin, told me about a fictitious bird in Argentina that is equivalent to a bowerbird, except is more "functional" in terms of building a bower rathe than consructing a bower for the purposes of sexual selection. Anyhoo, the story is very Alice-in-Wonderlandish.

The themes of the Myth of Sisyphus, Part 2 is:

(1) documenting the protocol of transformation from the immediate self to the relative self

(2) happiness can be found from change of behavior and change of environment rather than immediatly resorting to consuming human pharmaceutical quick-fix products

(3) the balance of human adaptation to manipulation of the environment

(4) the psychological and behavioral ecological underpinnings of scientific practice, which is the alternative method of absurd happiness
(5) how living a myth of sisyphus part 2 can alter the trajectory of the human condition on planet Earth.

Friday, September 12, 2008

293. "Transform Your Fear Into a Question:" The Elephant and the Oak Tree Associated Poem

This poem explores the psychological underpinnings of scientific practice. "Transform your fear into a question" is a primary theme of "The Elephant and the Oak Tree," which is a story I am currently writing. Now reading the poem again (after a year-or-so), I have come to realize how the poem describes Tariel's "free-and-easy-wanderer" mentality, which is derived from Eastern philosophy (I don't know anything else more specifically).

292. Song / Poem called "Live Twice"

Live Twice Poem. Page 1.
Live Twice Poem Page 2.
This poem/song emerged from a conversation with my friend, Jean. We discussed the condition of my father discovering that his brother had Asbarger's syndrome, over a decade after he passed away. Most of the rest of the family doesn't even know or understand why my father's brother was such a difficult child.

291. "Rock" Song Expanded Two-Fold: Guitar Chords and Added Lyrics for Joseph and Michelle

"Rock" Lyrics. Main Page.
"Rock" Lyrics. Additional page. Experimental poetry and lyrics.
I worked fairly hard last night and this morning to make my "second" ever guitar-chord lyrics sheet. I also jotted down guitar chords for "where stuff comes from, where stuff goes" a while ago. It was a real privilege last week to be able to experimentally jam with Joseph and Michelle. I have been so absorbed in The Elephant and the Oak Tree that I have had an extremely hard time ripping myself away to write out the lyrics!
I have a feeling that music can add a dimension of diminished anxiety in my life as a graduate student!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

290. Cartoon: My Friend is Working Very, Very, Very Hard

Gyorgos at work 1.
Gyorgos at work 2.
My friend has been working very, very hard. He is writing a "STAGE" script, just how I have been, and need to continue. He has isolated himself into "studio mode." It is very funny I understand his mentality rationally but I don't understand it emotionally. So I talk to my emotions : my rationalizations usually say "fxck you" to my emotions, but I guess evolution designed my emotions to be concerned for a few select number of people in this world, and my friend is one of them. So I get all agitated when I have a sequential lack of electronically communicative response. The whole stepping-off-the-planet syndrome. I'm actually saying "fxck you" to my emotions right now.
Otherwise I am proud of him for working hard and following his dreams... and keeping his word. Based on all the things my friend had told me in the past, I had come to realize that these bouts of writing and epiphanies and isolation were inevitable, given that he keeps his word. And so he has, and he is doing right now what I did in the past to my best friend from China, Talei. I isolated myself to the nth degree for a couple of months.
Anyhow, this kind of work ethic just wants me to help him more. It's even more inspiring to some degree... even more taxing to some degree. All I know is that my friend WILL do something amazing for the world. And so I just want to follow him around like a puppy dog, watching what wonderful things he'll be doing next....

289. "Nature is the Best Teacher" Variations

Variations that rhyme better. Unfortunately the first two images do not contain my font. *Sigh.* I suppose it's not top priority right now, but will soon be in my ecology of size chapter.

288. A Tshirt and Powerpoint Slide for My Father, Dr. Richard Minnich

Nature is the best teacher
unless you study nature
in a square meter!
--Paraphrased quote by my father,
Dr. Richard Minnich, and myself....

My artistic drive wasn't as strong tonight, but I tried my very best with the above.
Talk about the theme of SCALE! Scale, scale, scale....

287. Quote of the Day from My Mother, Maria

"There's too much knowledge and not enough wisdom in the world."

I am in a mental state of panic as the quarter approaches, and just a simple lying on my bed and holding my mother's hand calmed me down. I hadn't been really hugged in a while, and my anxiety levels lowered to some degree, though I have a head ache.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

286. "Paradox of the Big Empty Box" Poem

Paradox of the Big Empty Box
In Existence
And in Thought
Succeed to own
The end result
A big big big big
Empty box
How can you have everything
How can you have nothing
All at the same time?
All at the same time?
I can no longer live
In the vacant world outside
I need to live-n-dream
In your surreal, infinite mind....
Is this the ultimate
American system dream?
I'd rather own the world
I'd rather own the world
Through your mind's defining
In shifting....
In Existence
And in Thought
Succeed to own
The end result
A big big big big
Empty box

Saturday, September 06, 2008

285. Nobody Sits Like This Rock Sits. You Rock, Rock. I Heart Huckabees.

Speaking of rocks. Since I am in a groove from Dr. Lowenkopf's Writers Group. This quote above (which I embellished on Photoshop), is perhaps my "most favoritist" quote (I am being grammatically incorrect to emphasize emotion), from the zen Buddhist existentialist film I Heart Huckabees. Ideally, I would have liked to have hand-written the quote (which I will do in the future), but I am at Kinkos and without a scanner. At least the backdrop photograph is mine.
Modification of backdrop photograph. This is an image of the interior of a trashbag full of trash. I am fortunate to have attempted to make it look like some type of rock formation.
Still, a highly modified image of the interior of a trashbag. Rock out!

Rocks are currently very cool in the Writer's Group of Montecito. I will savor this fleeting fad and retrieve my old writings of rock, in atttempt to finalize these old, withered ideas.

I suppose in the end of all of this, I will have a small collection of ideas on the Philosophy of Rock, which was an idea I shared with Dr. Pete Salder about three years ago. It's funny, even though I have accumulated so much scrap work over the last three years, my ideas seemed to have subliminally developed and gathered some degree of order after all. I suppose this time of my life shall be a series of rapid blossoming of three years of ideas in the mold. It's already happening! I will enjoy this fleeting season, I suppose a once-in-a-hundred year event.

284. A Monumental Day in Multiple Different Ways: The Gaffer, The Band Practice, and the Rock Obsession at Shelly Lowenkopf's Lions Den (Meeting 3)

Today, through my good friend Joseph Gallo (amazing professional writer, poet, actor, etcetera), I met a very interesting man by the name of Frank. He is a gaffer (lighting guy) for the big movies of Hollywood. He is also a cinematographer. Frank also reminds me of the famous French actor, Gerard Depardieu. It ended up we both lived in Riverside in our early lives and he went to Poly High School while I went to the rival ghetto school of North.

Frank basically summarized "the big picture" in perhaps less than 5 minutes. I told him next time you tell the big picture to me in front of my film camera (Sony DVX 2100). He thought about the condition of the Great Apes (meaning we humans). The Earth wasn't really dying. It is just that humans are creating Earthly conditions that are uninhabitable to themselves. The Earth doesn't give a shxt about us. He also said that the core problem of Planet Earth is population. Replication. Humans and family planning. All other problems--environmental pollution, resource quality and scarcity, diseases, disasters--are just symptoms. The best part (and the worst part for everyone who wants to make money) is that family planning--the most important element of your life--is free. And it takes a 63.5 year lag time to solve the problem (because 63.5 years is the average human life span across the globe). And the goal is to have a planet about 2 billion perhaps, some number that was mentioned from research at UC Santa Barbara.

(I just had a flashback of Seth in boonies of Nevada stating, "The bad news is that humankind is going to hxll. The good news is that the Earth will be a much better place after we become extinct.")

I stared at Frank in simultaneous glee and sadness. Frank figured everything out and schpealed it out in less than five minutes. Frank doesn't have a Ph.D. He is a creative Hollywood cinematographer and lighting guy. And the worst part is that probably most of the reductionist scholars of the university--the ones who study the symptoms (e.g. environmental pollution, diseases, disasters)--would probably stare at him blankly. All I wanted to do is just film Frank. Just him spill it to the camera. His simplicity and beauty and parsimony in logic. To show that Frank, an intelligent human being, without a blah-blah Fud credential from the university, could just see through the bullshxt *bam* like that. I just wanted to show the world about how real humans think about this stuff. Politicians don't even see reality this way. I am so happy to have met Frank, but so sad to realize that the vast majority of the rest of the world is not Frank.

I further followed up with Frank and Joseph explaining to them that I am going to write in Fall quarter a theatrical script (80% science and 20% fiction), called "Towards a Philosophy of Scale: Reconstructing Life, Earth, Humans, and Environment with Some Legoes" or "An Ecology of Size: How to Reconstruct Life on Earth with Some Legoes." It is important to have Legoes in the title to make it appealing and amusing to a wider audience than... someone in the bio or an enviro department. I am making an argument that the human value system and perception of good and bad shifts with scale. One human taking a shxt in the forest is okay. Six billion humans taking a shxt in the forest is not okay. See? It' s an argument. I don't need to collect data on this. It's buried everywhere. So there is a gradient of good to bad as the magnitude of the system shifts. In addition, I will make an argument that a 6-billion ingroup may be physically sustainable through technological aids, but not psychologically graspable, therefore not mentally sustainable.

There were about three times today I wanted to film Frank and Joseph. They were at each others' throats in very playful ways!

The second amazing thing that happened to me was my first ever "official" quasi-band practice. I had been searching and dreaming that one day I would no longer practice and record my music alone and I would have a team of creative intellectuals around me to share music and singing. Michelle (a music and art school teacher), Joseph, and Frank ALL had guitars. I mean I was SWAMPED with guitars. Amazing! I have been praying (to the Allmighty Grizzleback Snickerhog) to find a group of creative intellectuals who actually care about what I care about. And then suddenly, here we are, a few blocks away from the beach at an artist studio complex in Carpinteria. Like *poof* magic! You keep searching and searching for something and when you least expect to find it, there you are. Your wish unfolds before you on a golden plate (not that golden plates are good either). All I need to do is become accustomed with a few songs they play and I can play chords and be a human arpeggiator on the piano--not to mention bang on the drums--and THAT'S IT. The goal is to play songs that are down to earth and depressing. Because all they play in the grocery stores is empty, happy-peppy music. Definitely my cup of tea. I am coming to learn and appreciate there is great poetry in older songs--Beatles era material. There are still very deep songwriters out there but they're all smashed out by megacorporatism. Amazing.

The other event that happened is that I played my sketch piano tune "Rock" for Joseph, Michelle, and Frank... and they actually LIKED IT. At first Joseph said, hmmm, this sounds familiar. And I said, really? And he thought a little more... and then I admitted that I made it up. I guess it was a very catchy tune. Even my friend Oscar Flores liked the tune. We were both messing around at a Costco one night with the piano and a karaoke machine, and I whacked that song out. So, this is good. It's the next song I want to record. Soon enough... I hope.... I will probably need a CCS room for a few hours to get a clean recording....

To make it even more ironic.... I created the song "Rock" from three sources: (1) my geology field trip experience with Seth and Joe (former UC Riverside graduate students) out in the boonies of Nevada, (2) my overall good, but partially turmoiling relationship with my mother, and (3) the dilemma of managing Goleta Beach: place a permeable pier piling or allow more "natural" erosion. I finished the lyrics of the song in February of 2008, only to receive a lack of response from the Goleta Beach team. Then, all in one day, I receive an overwhelming positive, influential response from the band of vocalists and guitar players... as well as the Lion's Den Montecito Writers Group with Shelly Lowenkopf! I guess it's all a matter of finding the right audience. Wow. The university had an emotionally dead response. The literary critics and artists were raving with excitement. Hmmm. Maybe it's good I am networked in the community.

"This girl is going somewhere. I don't know where, but she is going somewhere." That is how Joseph introduced me to Frank. That is a very accurate description of me. I guess Joseph knows me very well.

I realized I can never break ties with the university. I will always need to stay. The university to me symbolizes infinity and I need to stay in a place of infinity. Once I go out into the world, I start feeling like I am hitting dead ends and only small corners of the universe. I have come to realize that my true role is to be tied to the university with my fingers extending all over the community. I am research and outreach. Period. That is where I belong.

The third major event of today was my attendance of Shelly Lowenkopf's Writers Group for the third time. I am so fortunate to carpool with my neighbor and friend, Hector Javkin, a Linguistics Guru. I haven't told Hector this, but I consider Hector and his wife, Katia, essentially as my "intellectual uncle and aunt." They treat me like family. I feel like I have bonded more deeply with Hector and Katia than many of my family members. We mostly share writing and photography, but when you share writing with anyone, you are connecting with the deepest of one's inner being. It's even deeper than seeing a shrink. Through writers groups I felt I have found the core essence of human existence and human "spirit." You truly come to know a person through their writing.

Anyhow, enough of thankfulness (but I can't help thanking Hector and Katia enough!), I announced to the group today (I was second reader) that I shifted gears from Myth of Sisyphus (the poem I read last time that people STILL referred to this time, wow) and informed the group that I was in the process of writing "The Elephant and the Oak Tree" short story ending up to be a novella. I said I am in the middle of writing and since I am so emotionally attached, I will not read until I am done (sometime this week). So instead, I brought a poem called "Rock." I pardoned myself and said that I am sorry I have been obsessing over rocks as of late and I promise it's just a phase. I also explained about where the poem came from. I read the song to the rather large group today (I met a new member, Valerie, Penny was off to Italy, lucky her) (I did not sing it to the writers group, though I told Frank that the music industry is depressing, they are into making tracks and music trills but no music with thoughtful lyrics, I need to go to writers groups to get literary critiques of my music, ironically). This song is so OLD in me, that I was must emotionally over it. But to my surprise, I had raving responses from EVERYONE in the group. Shelly said, first of all, that I should NOT pardon and excuse myself for being obsessed with rocks and that I should go with it, because no one is really doing this. Shelly said that this poem should go with my Myth of Sisyphus short story collection (psychological adventures, so to speak) because it fits beautifully with this philosophical obsessionary phase with rocks. That my writing is actually going somewhere. He even came up to me and gave me a moral boost after class! (insert: I just found out that he called this poem like an epigram, or can be transformed into an epigram, which I just found out that it is a short peom often with a clever twist in the end or a concisde and witty statement, I thought epigram was some kind of lie detector test, ha ha). (I told Hector how my taking a year off to write Question Reality, it had never been the same to take science classes, I was transforming my newly acquired geologic knowledge into poetry, and I was shocked with my own brain!). Though I don't feel I am emotionally grasping this response to it's entirety, I am SO amazed that everyone at the table was tossing out tons of positive ideas for ten or more minutes, while I was frantically taking notes. Here are some notes below, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER.

**reminds of poem by William Blake, "Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright" (I just read it and it's quite a bit religious overtone on who's the Immortal Guy who designed such an immense creature, I myself have no religion in my writing) (coming to think about it, Shelly's writer's group is VERY SECULAR, all intellectuals, real-world, and non religious blah blah blah, which makes your brain all hyperassociative in a non-real-world way... most of the time)
**make the rock "more specific" igneus or metamorphic or sedimentary, facets, plains, cleavage
**what do YOU want to get out of the rock, take the rock poem BEYOND Goleta Beach, the more "cosmic" stuff (I made the poem unresolved because Goleta Beach is a lose-lose situation, and I also made the poem as a human talking to a rock, an inanimate object, even giving it human qualities, the human doesn't want anything from the rock except for wisdom and truth (as Damon mentioned in 2004 how there was nothing more noble than to observe a city of bustling geologists, who all gather to share their findings of truth by trekking to the boonies of the earth, from outcrop to outcrop), and how to best live with the rock, to manipulate the rock or to adapt to it?, also addresses the theme of LOVE-HATE relationships with humans and environment, yet they are inseperable and you have to live and deal with it, besides humans talking to rocks basically documents the human elements of scientific practice, yes GEOLOGISTS READ ROCKS. GEOLOGISTS TALK TO ROCKS AND GEOLOGISTS GOSSIP AMONG THEMSELVES ABOUT ROCKS, AND THE ROCKS' FEELINGS ARE NOT HURT).
**Shelly started to think about this poem/song being DRAMATIZED in theater or a film such that you have a human like a geologist talking to a human dressed up as a rock, or a bunch of humans dressed as rocks or black flowing capes of sediments and streams (I am so shocked that Shelly and Christina Allison spewed this idea out because I had a secret fantasy about creating a dance about a rock who lived on top of a hill, broke out, and had this adventure being transformed and carved and transported all the way down from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the ocean, like an ultimate roller coaster ride in a few minutes rather than a few million years).
**attempt to write not from the human's point of view but from the ROCK'S POINT OF VIEW, e.g. humans are like what the hxll? and the rock's point of view is like "You humankinds can fxck your self up, but I don't give a fxck about what you humans do to yourself. I shall still be here. You destroy yourselves, you will become dirt of the earth. You will beat yourself up, and then you will come join me."
**the poem discusses the idea of ADAPTATION and MANIPULATION (which was part of the Goleta Beach script).
**Valerie mentioned the problems with rocks "the levees" of Hurricane Katrina and the current hurricane.... (which I am incorporating in the "Elephant and Oak Tree" story).
**brainstorm how rocks relate to humans and their lives *minerals*where we build houses*where we get most materials from in our supplies and technology*make projectile points out of rocks to kill prey*rocks as religious symbols*BUT VIC IS NOT NEW AGEY, she is skimming spiritual-new-age-bullshxt*rocks don't even burn in fires, so we can put that in Willard's story!

**Shelly advised Hector to send his poem (it's a very sad poem on the passing of a dear friend associated with an ironic set of emails) to Hudson Review ( and Kenyon Review (
**Christina Allison is dealing with "serious comedy" (politics of the psat) and I, Victoria, am dealing with "serious comedy" human psychology and environment of the present...