Thursday, October 30, 2008

340. Psychology and Human Ecology of Scale: Excerpt from Living in a Dying World: ALL ROUGH DRAFT!

Page 1 from a 12-page excerpt from "Living in a Dying World." PDF File of the version is found here: The wrting is very rough-and-gruff, but at least it's piecing the parts of the puzzle more than usual.
Towards a Psychology and Human Ecology of Scale Page 1. ROUGH DRAFT. Resulting document from re-reading the excerpt "Living in a Dying World."

Towards a Psychology and Human Ecology of Scale Page 2. ROUGH DRAFT. Resulting document from re-reading the excerpt "Living in a Dying World." PDF file of Psychology/Human Ecology of Size can be found here:

Since all of this is rough-draftish and sketchy-ish, you are probably wondering... more so, I am wondering WHY I am placing this material on line. The reason is... REPEAT OCCURRENCE OF THOUGHT. In the last 6 weeks, I probably have had conversations about this issue to more than a dozen people. And it drives me nuts to have repeat ideas. I just want to get rid of them... lay my demons down, so-to-speak. I framed several conversations, with fellow graduate students, and even one of my advisors, revolved around the notion of scale--group size--and how it impacts individual psychology. And here is the rough sketch that could potentially be a "math model" in the bare essentials of human-environmental interactions. Should be a video game.

I seriously need to get these ideas off my chest and get this grueling essay OUT IN THE OPEN. I know it's coming.... My winter break will be HXLL, period.
I just need to let go of all these ideas! Let them out of my head. I want NEW ONES!

339. Ancient Gekko Mosaic Artwork: Because Vic's Been Hanging Around Herpetologists and Evolutionary Vertebrate Morphologists All Quarter Long!

About a year ago, I was messing around with Photoshop in concern of a single cartoon image of a "gekko" I drew. How Biologically Incorrect it is! I am not even sure how gekkos look like. I drew the image from memory of what a lizard-like creature might look like. But nevertheless, in the process of experimentation, I learned some new Photoshop techniques--particularly in layering and color changes. It's funny to think this Gekko Mosaic was in my computer for so long, yet I had no emotional incentive to place it on the internet. Now that my time has largely revolved around an Evolutionary Vertebrate Morphology course, such that all members of the lab (s) study herpetology (reptiles and amphibians) and vertebrate paleontology (from fish to mammals, I suppose), suddenly there is incentive to place this dormant set of artwork on the internet. My quarter has revolved around the intellectual indulgence of the Lovers of Gekkos, alive and dead, who have also end up being the most conceptual and inspirational thinkers I have ever met!

I suppose this also symbolizes my ReInauguration of being Immersed with my Fellow Biologists--to which I originated as a CCS Biology major back in the early 2000s. Biology, ecology, and evolution in other UC schools have been left to the molecules and the machines. The concept of "field science" has largely become "moot." People now study ecology and evolution soley through molecules--which seems to be the central theme of UCLA Biology. Even perhaps UCR Biology. I remember my friend, Yasmin, mourning, "What ever happened to the concept of a 'whole organism'?" And I added, "A 'whole organism' relative to its environment?" People think they are studying at "these scales" through molecules?! Ummm....

But UCSB field biological sciences has remained embedded in the notion that you actually go out in the field, get dirty, collect specimens, have crazy experiences that make you cus, come back, analyze data, tell crazy stories that made you cus in the first place, and then life is good. That is a satisfying lifestyle of a biologist at UCSB--which appears to be deteriorating elsewhere.

The other day I was chatting with Chris, a fellow graduate student, in attempt to becoming re-oriented at UCSB. It's funny to think I knew quite a few professors, but I hardly knew any graduate students. Especially in the Ecology and Evolution Department. And in terms of "knowing" professors, I was in a very different mental state as an undergraduate. I took their words as the Bible of Biology (and I have my "As" to demonstrate my religiousness to knowing that they knew)... And now?!!... You can see my eyes squinting with skepticism in every single lecture I attend... "Oh... ANOTHER MODEL. This theory is based on ANOTHER model. Great. Model. Model. Model. Why did you ask this question? And not this question? How do you know these methods are valid? And consistent? So, where is some REAL data?"

So, the situation was, I had actually been "frightened" and "shy" around certain professors as an undergrad (it took me a few years to re-label my old advisors Dr. Kuris and Dr. Tiffney as "Armand" and "Bruce") and I really had to find a way to crack this shell in concern of a current professor I was taking a course from. So I spoke to Chris and he eased my anxieties as I asked questions about Professor Personalities.

Amidst this discussion, I had the opportunity to meet one of Armand's (Kuris) graduate students. Chris had apparently purchased some wax worms and crickets for his reptiles/amphibians and the two graduate students quickly immersed themselves in a Worm Consumption challenge.

I was simultaneously stunned and elated at the same time! The experience of my peers impulsively munching what is ordinarily considered Lizard Chow and Frog Zap was Unexpectingly Predictable. I had been removed from My People--UCSB biogeeks, geobums, and the like--for so long, like five years, that I was in shocking ecstasy to re-witness the behavioral practices of My Kind.

I think Chris and the other graduate student mentioned the wax worms didn't taste like much of anything. Chris also mentiond that such "worm-eating" endeavors wouldn't happen at Bren. I feel that Bren is a superb academic home on campus in terms of the interdisciplinary properties of my research, but sub-culturally, the Corporate Formality is psychologically disconnecting--neurologically severaging (as I am wearing a casual t-shirt and shorts, lounging in the fifth-floor East Asian library, ploughing away at my computer).

After that moment--that turning point, that Informal Inauguration to the UCSB ecology / evolution graduate community, I truly knew I was back Home. My true Academic Home. I was back where I belonged. It's just one more piece of evidence to demonstrate that "If I Am Weird, then I Found A Pack of Weirdness to Blend in With." Weirdness (in the essence of thinking-and-doing-outside-the-box) needs to band together to remain safe. Otherwise, it's a lonely, lonely world out there. Five years of being "alone" (institutionally, at least) had not been the most cheery set of experiences to endure.

So, now it is most respectually the time to place the Gekko Mosaic on the Biologically Incorrect Blog, because now it has multiple layers of meaning. When before... it was just another mindless photoshop exercise... without any Biological Umph to its existence.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

338. "Fall Line" Lyrics By Jack Johnson

I get frustrated consuming other people's work. American Society is Super Consumptive, even as a graduate student, and people hardly have any time to tap into themselves ans ask, "Wait a second! What do I think?" But I must acknowledge and pay respects the very few who alter my understanding and perception of reality.

I have listened to Jack Johnson's Fall Line probably about 50 times now over the last half-year, let alone the last couple of weeks. So, I must pay my respects to Jack Johnson, who attended UCSB! I hope one day to meet him. That would mean much!

Two musicians I have recently latched on to (thanks to my housematey Kyle for letting me have two Gigs of music on my computer) are Jack Johnson and Fiona Apple. Though his melodies are a little too mellow for me--I need faster pace and more emotional amplitude--his lyrics are stunningly thoughtful and "environmental." I did not discuss Jack Johnson in a music essay I wrote about a year ago, and I think I should have. I was exposed to "Fall Line" through watching one of my instructor's films (Michael Hanrahan) for the Environmental Defense Center (EDC). I was stunned by the immense beauty and brevity of the song--and the notion that this song seems to be one of the faster-paced Jack Johnson songs. The song also sounds like a tongue twister. I suppose this was a "mise-en-scene" song though one usually uses such phrasing to analyze films--the lyrics, the melody, the pacing, the emotional mood--all of it was optimally aligned in this song. EPIC!

As for Fiona Apple, this woman is just sassy and witty and just downright intelligent... and stands unique on her own right. I like Alanis Morisette in terms of witty but she is too angry for me. I can only listen to her for a couple of songs, but then I'm done. But with Fiona Apple, I can listen to her for probably six songs in a row. Fiona describes and endures pain and bitterness in her songs, but it is more soothing and digestible. And I feel I can relate better in terms of her emotional tone. She is defintely a role-model for me in terms of being a wannabe singer 10 years from now. Ha ha ha. Am I laughing? Or am I not?

Fall Line Lyrics (Jack Johnson)
Jack Johnson - Fall Line Lyrics
by the way you know that hope will make you strange make you blink make you blink, make you sink it will make you afraid of change, and often blame the box with the view of the world and wars are filled with fame i turn it up, but then i turn it off, cause i cant stand when they start to talk about the hurting and killing, whose shoes are we filling the damage and ruin, man the things that were doing otta, we gotta stop gotta turn it all off, gotta rewind start it up again because it fell across the fall line aint there nothing sacred anymore? na na na na na na na na na somebody saw him jump yea, but nobody saw him slip, i guess he lost a lot of hope, and then lost grip but now he's laying in the freeway in the middle of this mess guess we lost another one just like the other one optimisic hypocrite that didnt have the nerve to grip the things that that kept him wanting more til he finally reached the core fell across the fall line aint there nothing sacred anymore na na na na na na

337. Poem / Song "Life Can Be Nicer"

Life can be nicer
If you put two-and-two together
But give it some time
Give it some time

Life can be nicer
If we both share our dire weather
But give it some time
Enduring some time

All these chance encounters of
High frequency
All one point in space and time
May give an ability
To see--
A developing--

Oh we'll see where it could go....
Oh whatever road things go....

Life will be nicer--

Putting two-and-two together....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

336. A Sketch Essay on Inherited Versus Acquired Academic Families: A Delicate Relationship Between a Professor and His Daughter (Lamarck-Darwin)

I don't want to inherit an academic family (through my father, a scientist). I want to acquire it. I want to earn trust and respect. I need to sweat intellectual blood, re-arranging neurons in my head just to EARN my academic family. And then it will all have meaning.

Basically, I started a Question Reality Google Groups, which can be found at in which I have made a somewhat religious effort to collect precious quotes from my college experiences within the last five years that I have failed to write down (bad me). Furthering the notion that my existence only has worth or merit given that it is searchable on the internet. *Sigh.* I wrote down the above quote (in big orange letters) and it ended up prompting this lengthy essay on the relationship between me and my father (both of us scientists). Quite cathartic. Amazing to say that I was able to write well simply because I had excessive sleep the night before... I slept from 5pm to 7am. 14 flippin' hours. Shows you how EXHAUSTED I was! Sleep-deprived. Etcetera. After Dr. Sweet's midterm (yesterday), I had come to realize that right now it is IMPORTANT TO WRITE and POST ON MY BLOG. Freeform structure. It is a huge burden right now to worry about formatting my writing for multiple different media sources. Like writing for the Daily Nexus (UCSB's undergrad newspaper). If I write something that ends up being optimal formatting for a media source around town, all the better. But I shouldn't constrain my mind to creating it's own structure. For example, this essay below, I should not worry about it's length or structure. The most important thing is that my mind just took my through a coherent logic structure that was good enough to place on the internet. Glory Halleluliah!

Essay Starts Here.

The above quote is in response to my problems for going to graduate school at UC Riverside. I was having huge psychological problems because around campus I was not regarded as "Victoria" the "scale girl" (which is my name at UCSB), but I was perceived as "Rich Minnich's daughter," or the "daughter of that famous fire ecologist." Which is cool in part, but very frustrating because I am attempting to mold and earn my own Intellectual Identity, along WITH my father, but at a healthy distance.

Things at UC Riverside became so absurdly bad that I was approached by scientists who shifted their adult voice into baby-cootsie-coo tone as their minds shifted into flashback mode, "Oh! I remember back when you were yay high (three feet from the ground) and you would run around the lawn outside the geology building, making and playing with paper airplanes with Sadler's kids." Excuse me, but HOW can I take my academic career so seriously when they know me at such a personal level that they probably even know MORE about me than I do myself when I existed as a naive kid?

UC Santa Barbara is an optimal place. When I first applied to the College of Creative Studies, I purposely removed any information in my application that my father was a fire ecologist and climate scientist at UC Riverside. Dr. Armand Kuris and the CCS committee permitted me to join CCS without knowing my deep historical roots in science. Hence, I earned my admission independent of affiliation with my father. Though, a month later, Armand called me into his office, and he said, "Victoria, why didn't you ever tell me that your father was a scientist?" I guess he found out through the internet, but I admitted to him that I wanted to be seen through his eyes independent of my father. I think he admired this notion, but he said that my academic record seemed very suspicious from the start (being involved in science fair projects at an early age and all), let alone to acquire an email account from ucsb by the name of "bioweb" (I should have received a patent or copyright for that name because in 2000 I was essentially the only person on google who affiliated with "bioweb" and three years later, three biotech companies named themselves "bioweb." Perhaps I could have gotten quite a bit of money from the invention of a single word!). Armand also had a student by the name of Dana Schulman who was so obsessed with octupii that her email account was "octopus" at Talk about extreme biological identities. Armand further pointed out that most of his CCS biology students ended up having someone in the family affiliated with academia, whether a father or mother was a professor or a brother or sister was a graduate student.

Though, when it was time to apply to graduate school--more specifically the Bren, under Dr. Oran Young, I do admit that I informed Oran about my intentions and how they were very closely tied with my father's history of research in fire ecology and his role as a scientist in the greater arena of stakeholders in society. The primary factors that I told Oran is that (1) I lived with a father who knew something that would ultimately affect people's jobs, taxpayer's dollars, people's homes, and people's overall survival. He published articles in Science and various other respectable scientific journals. He knew this for FIFTEEN YEARS, and no one in society (journalists, policymakers) paid much heed to his work, for multiple reasons: (1) people were in denial of this knowledge (2) there was another ectoparasitic scientist who lived to counteract my dad's research and chronically hogged the journalists' and policymakers' time and energy (3) my father was very timid and isolated, he did not make much of an effort to voice out his concern (though he said the most important thing you need to do is WRITE not SQUACK) and (4) my dad was not affiliated with any credible journalists for quite a bit of time. There were multiple dimensions of communication gaps between science and society through the lens of my father and I saw him for fifteen years LIVE IN FRUSTRATION because no one was listening to him. It's a psychologically turmoiling thing, you know.

And then the October 2003 Fires hit. BAM. Then the October 2007 Fires hit. BAM BAM. People started to become desperate. A Shifting Baseline of Poor Smokey the Bear Management led to an EXTREME EVENT of too much fuel build up over the last hundred years burning off during extreme October Santa Ana Winds. When people are desperate and in a state of shock (loss of lives, loss of homes huge expenditures in taxpayer dollars), that is the only time they start to question their bad habits, existing traditions, and conventions that they once thought was the Truth: (1) Smokey the Bear fire suppression and Hollywood tanker shoes (2) listening to the other squacking ectoparasitic scientist camp who was promoting Smokey the Bear (hmmm, this scientist no longer seems to make sense anymore) (3) vicious cycles of repeat journalist reporting that had no sense of deeper time frames of environmental issues... etc etc etc.

Desperation and shock from the October 2003 Fires and October 2007 pulled the veil from the public's eyes. And so the desperate public and the desperate journalists found my father. Finally! And they hit him really hard. It is strange. From information deprivation to information overstimulation! My father was hammered by journalists so much that UC Riverside had to cut off his phone line and filter out calls so my dad wouldn't go nuts (talk about journalism being homogenized and spinning their wheels, every news source is in the race to get the scoop, and every news source is competing with the other news sources, so they have to quote other news sources and gather information from the same people just to keep up with the competition). My dad at that point needed an Agent, and UCR ended up playing the agent/manager role to filter out the insane bombardment of people who were trying to reach my father.

Then the second wave of problems come: from the media's disregard of my father's research to the media's DISTORTION of my father's research to whatever news sources multiple agendas. Hence the birth of INDUSTRIAL MEDIA ECOLOGY: tracking the formation of scientific stories (from the university knowledge factory) and how they are transmitted and distorted through society, the sources and sinks. How the knowledge is being used by various stakeholders.

It's almost as if the media comes in repeat waves an periods of deadened silence. One, day the media cares about my dad as if he were their dearest, intriguing next door neighbor and the next day they act like he doesn't even exist. He is a forgotten name in a lost pile of emails and phone calls. The Metabolism of Media is so ADHD / hyper / short term / instant gratification that it's almost like a dysfunctional hummingbird with a heart beat so fast that it's circulatory system was going to explode.

The media makes my dad as the center of the universe in the fall (severe fire season) and now ever since my father released his book on "California's Fading Wildflower Legacy" (an historical ecology book on shifts of the flora of California) the media will start to hit him hard in the spring, when all the residual spectacular wildflower blooms emerge in the deserts, hills, and around the coast. (I was in part sad when the Los Angeles Times started an Outdoors Section because all the barren places where my father and I and other scientists would enjoy in peace and solitude are now flocked with newspaper-educated cocoon tourists with needs of fleeting instant gratification--from snow bunnies to desert bunnies to beach bunnies--such that now our research sites have been an Environmental Disneyland. Such tragedy. Lack of education is bad. But too much education is bad too. Like I said, I like people. I hate humans.

I am wondering whether journalists operate on a Routine Cycle of Repeat Human Dramas, much like a news' stations' B roll. Like every single day of human existence has a REPEAT THEME, whetter it's hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, annually, decadally. This recycling of human drama, tell me about it. So, technically, my father is attacked on a seasonal basis, in the fall and in the spring. Summer and winter season is when things are quiet--media wise--but there is always academic drama occurring on a daily basis. That sucks. Media and policy drama is just a few too many layers for a scientist to deal with.

So, that is why I promose my existence as an environmental media Ph.D. student, which I elaborated with Dr. Young. There are three missions of the university: (1) research, (2) teaching and (3) outreach. Most professors focus on research and teaching. Outreach carries out as far as being a judge for a local science fair. Uh, cool, but too local and small-scale. I propose that in order for the university to diminish its role as an Intellectual Disneyland Floating on the Ivory Towers, it needs to create roles of scientists involved in research and OUTREACH. I think it is very critical for a scientist to chronically pursue research projects, just to maintain intellectual sharpness and skepticism. Whereas journalists think they have credible information if they quoted a "credible, famous person." Journalists don't attempt to track down the source of the scientists' conclusions. They just assume the scientist is the "expert" and the scientist "knows what he is talking about."

Honestly, I don't need to collect data to show there are severe problems between communication and collaboration links in science and society. It's FLAMING OBVIOUS. Everyone can see this DISCREPANCY BETWEEN REALITY AND MEDIA REALITY, on a DAILY BASIS! There are problems at multiple scales (1) the assumptions of journalists and policymakers (2) how journalists and policymakers collect their data (3) the NUMBER of journalists and policy-makers, the number of MIDDLEMEN involved in tweaking and transmitting the information.

So? Voila. Here is cute little Victoria full of pure vision and purpose, determined to be that little cavegirl dancing around her troubled father to protect him and become all the things that her father desperately needs to become a functional scientist in the circus arena of public stakeholders of Planet Earth. So, over the years, besides acquiring the traditions and methods of scientists and knowledge that spans the environmental sciences (and hard sciences of human behavior), I have acquired multiple forms of storytelling skills, such that I can adopt any one story and any one message into 101 or a million-and-one different ways, such that it can be disseminated as truthfully and as optimally-emotionally-engagingly as possible such that it can be communicated and remembered by most audiences (which I have immersed and done research in) in a potentially most lasting impactive way. How should I call this? ADAPTIVE STORYTELLING? Adapting one story into a million possible INFORMATION PACKAGES such that it SUITS THE BASELINE OF KNOWLEDGE AND ATTENTION SPAN of multiple different audiences? Sweet! For example, 101 different representations of the rock crab, there is no right or wrong way to perceive a rock crab, correct?

If the university internalizes the Environmental Media role rather than relying on National Geographic and CNN to do the job, it minimizes several problems, mostly the distortion of scientific information from several sources of middlemen with various different (profiteering) agendas.

So, overall, I live in a situation of catch 22. The evolution of my thought processes and my role in the university has largely been derived from the relationship with my father, but at the same time, when I am in the university in pursuit of a Ph.D. I want--and NEED--my own Individual Intellectual Identity, which had been greatly honored in my experience at the College of Creative Studies, and has been honored thus far at Bren.

I remember having a conversation with Becca in concern of these issues (Becca is a very intelligent, creative graduate student working under Drs. Steve Gaines and Bob Warner). I try to keep this information about "my father is a professor" very low key. I only tell my close friends (or people who I attempt to become close friends with). I have seen other students "abuse" this knowledge to "inherit" their contacts in the university rather than "acquire" them. I know as a Professor's Daughter, born and raised, playing on the university campus in Riverside, California, I have a historical (heritage) advantage in concern of knowing the ins-and-outs and formalities (the OVERALL ABSURDITY OF BUREAUCRACY) of this academic niche space in society. A love-hate relationship, indeed!

But, with my conversation with Dr. Oran Young, it was inevitable for me to discuss my relationship with my father over the years, because it is truly the driving force that compells me to acquire the title of "environmental media Ph.D. student before the "true discipline" of environmental media actually comes to EXIST at UC Santa Barbara. There are only three environmental media Ph.D. students at Bren, and they are all under Oran (formally), though I have found out how other Ph.D. students have added a media component to their research.

So, as a scientist, now taking a step back from my years of scientific practice and am now accounting for the notion that "science is done by humans," (which has led to the revelation of the intersubjectivity--not objectivity of science, scientific practice is driven by value systems, a whole can of worms, etcetera). I am now essentially on the same page as my advisor, Dr. Young, who investigates the human dimensions of environmental change and the institutional dimensions (or is it "institutional framing") of scientific practice. I must now account for the quirks and perks of human behavior, the underlying PSYCHOLOGY and SOCIOLOGY of scientific practice and the decision-making of the diverse stakeholders of Planet Earth.

Thanks to Dr. Young and Dr. Melack, I can assume a role as "scientist in an artist's body," much like Dr. Milton Love (my most inspiring fisheries biologist with a tattoo of a wrangler and rock fish on his arm, VERY real marine biologist, I do say) exists as a "scientist in a humorist's body" without any shame. To live my dualist personality of being systematically creative, expressed in pieces of art and pieces of legitimate science.

All in the name of being my father's Right Hand. Err. Much needed Extra Left Hand. So we can exist ambisinistrously!

There are multiple dimensions of research that fill in the gaps between my knowledge as a scientist and Oran's research:

(1). Institution-Ecosystem Mismatching (pardon my untechnical language) Gaps and Overlaps of institutions (laws) and organizations in wildland fire management of southern and Baja California (spatial and temporal lag times in science-policy-media, gaps are institutions that need to be connected, and overlaps are institutions that overlap in law-policy, that are either conflicting and contradictory or synergizing (which is non-problematic). The goal is to match Institutions and Organizational Operations/Management with understanding Ecosystem Processes (Julie Ekstrom's research, gxd bless her soul, though I'm not religious!).

(2). The Psychology of Scientific Practice and Cognition of Stakeholders of a common resource/environment at small-and large-scale systems. What do people know and not know about a resource/system? How did they come to know and come to such conclusions? Why do people do what they do? What are their underlying motives and purposes? How do people collect data and information about their environment? Film can be a tool for mapping spatial cognition of a stakeholder's environment. This is the core essence of Ecopistemologizing and EvPsychinMyDailyLife. This is where I see the interesting flicks coming from. I have already established some interesting new techniques in interviewing people, which involves ART as a "cognitive mapping" tool. For example, I had each stakeholder to say words that related to the resource in 60 seconds. Another tool is to give the stakeholder an opportunity to DRAW the resource from MEMORY. Cognitive mapping-based spatial-artistic interviews of the resource. VISUALIZED INTERVIEWS.

(3). Industrial Ecology and Industrial Media Ecology. Tracking the sources and sinks of a resource in the human system (e.g. like I did with the rock crab). A little bit of old news here, I call it more so Ecological Structure and Process Knowledge. Industrial Media Ecology assumes the the University is a Megacorporate--Or MegaPublicaInstitutional Factory of Knowledge. First, you must assemble the protocol as how scientists generate knowledge (e.g. the "sacred" scientific method that no one seems to be able to pin point and track down the exact clarity of the method, or it's organic roots of the method, what is the underlying psychology of scientific practice, if you remove any form of institutionalization of scientific practice). Then you track how the science is being published and/or produced. And then you start to track the "mass-energy flows" of scientific information being disseminated into society... (the prism of Dr. Nancy Baron's slideshow): (1) policy-makers (2) non-profit groups (3) journalists (4) general public. The multiple sinks of scientific information, and then you start to analyze how this scientific information is being tweaked and distorted given the number of "middlemen" in the process, and then how the information is being used. And whether any changes of behavior occur, from the individual to mass-scale level and whether at the mass-scale level was it bottom-up or top-down change? I essentially have a project here with my father's research. I know the science, and now I have to systematically track the literature emerged from my father's research in the realm of business, government, and journalism.

I guess between me and my dad, we both think very similarly in terms of scale-based issues. We are both left-handed, go figure. He focuses on the plants and the physical parameters, and I have come to shift focus more so on the psychological parameters and human dimensions of environmental change. I have come to view humans as very peculiar and fascinating, multi-dimensional creatures, from a biologist’s (and evolutionary psychological) point of view. If you have those two factors covered—the natural sciences and a naturalist’s view of the social sciences, you've got a dynamic duo covering nearly all elements of the spectrum!

As you can tell, I love my dad. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't be where I am today. I just think it's important that I have a healthy academic/bureaucratic distance from him such that I can establish my own credentials in my own terms. It will force me to create and earn my own academic family, in addition to inheriting his.

KEY WORDS: inherited versus acquired wealth, industrial media ecology, university factory of knowledge, academic family, scientific distortion, media metabolism, media reality, adaptive storytelling, adaptive management, individual intellectual identity, absurdity of bureaucracy, psychology and sociology of scientific practice (the social contruction of reality), intitutional-ecological mismatch, gaps and overlaps analysis, psychology of collecting, visualized-cognitive interviews, university factory of knowledge, INDUSTRIAL MEDIA ECOLOGY AT UCSB: DR. ROLAND GEYER AND POST DOC BRANDON I MET AT BREN SOCIAL.

335. Middle of the Quarter Blues

It is the fourth week of the quarter and I am starting to question myself, greatly. I am starting to feel like this information overload is waring on me, making me fall apart. Last night I went to bed at "5pm" and I woke up at 7am. My teeth were starting to hurt again. I made a dental appointment for Thursday. My nerves are getting all activated.

I was internalizing... not by my swirling thoughts within my cerebral cortex, but through basal pain reflexes associated with my teeth.

For the last two weeks, I have been feeling out of tune again in space and time.

I am drowning in junk mail and receipts that only serve as distracting backdrop clutter: Sports Authority (forced to purchase a softball glove and softball), Vons and Kmart (werthers candy, my routine vice 10/18 10/19), Java Jones Coffeehouse (impulsive, expensive purchases of caffeine on and off campus that serve as moderate "therapy" buys, I do admit I will not return to Java Jones in a while, the last bout of coffee I had there seemed burned and was not an enjoyable experience with the additional street construction near by), apparently on 10/18 I purchased Good Earth Chai for the office, still in my bag, 10/18 purchased Trader Joes egg rolls chicken (very good!) fat free milk, vanilla soy milk, supply me for the deadly weekend of studying for evolutionary vertebrate morphology,

Is school right or wrong for me? Good or bad for me? School is wonderful, as long as it is in proper doses. At this moment, due to scale and volume and rate of information flow and mental digestion, I could say school is simply too much of a good thing.

I can't help feeling like this rock embedded in a kelp bed in the churning, shallow waters of the ocean, but it's as if my firm ground is being dismantled, and that I am being swept away and drowned by the university's Turbulence of Information. When will I ever be left alone? When will I have a chance to catch up with myself? To heal my mind? Piece it together? The outer world has taken me away and I don't even have enough time to hold any form of solid ground with my own mind.

Perhaps I could be more functional if I had a 48 hour biological clock. I could live for 24 hours and reflect for 24 hours. *Sigh.* Our own human biology is quite restricting!

Turbulence of Information, Information Overload, Information Crucifix

Saturday, October 18, 2008

334. Sketch of Essay: On the Immensely Minor Passing of Cat-Kat

Sage Cat-Kat. How can a creature so miniscule be so all-encompassing? Be so profound?

I am still pissed off that I received a National Photo Award for an image of a snobbish and horribly abnoxious cat (who potentially resides in Orange County) (please visit

The Above Image is the best image I have ever taken of a cat. In fact, it is perhaps one of the best images I have ever taken in my entire life.

I have been anticipating on writing an essay on The Immensely Minor Passing of Cat Kat, which will contains some of the following elements:

(1) Shock, withdrawal, void, absence (deconstruction of a physical entity) can be filled with the conglomeration of thoughts in visual representation: artwork and writing (reconstruction through multi-media). Cathartic ritual to "fill the void" of the mind.

(2) Though I am 2 years old (27 years old, women don't mature till age 25, men age 50), I have not experienced an emotionally tragic experience of loss or death of a loved one (though I myself have mourned through the near loss of my own life around 17 years of age).

(3) Additionally, I have no regards or likings for cats. Most of them are house pets. They are individualistic and have attitude problems. Typical American Capitalist personality type. They pretend to be self-sufficient but leech off of everyone and expect everyone else to do their shxt and take the blame. It's all about "me" and screw the rest. Talk about Millenials! Not to mention they have sharp claws and gnarly teeth. Due to their dichotomous personality of Leechy Individualists, cats do not promote true trustworthy bonds. And if they bond (bred to be housecats) to humans, they are too demanding for attention. Too high maintenance. (Kind of like my friend I catered to this summer. Fudge!).

(4). As for Cat Kat, this tiny, fuzzy, multi-colored puffball creature (though an "adult" female) has glowing, knowing eyes that portray her "been there done that" wisdom and continued skepticism of life. As seen in the image above, Cat Kat's eyes glow with immense meaning and spark my own imagination. They are full of stories, much like Lisa Berry's cairn Terrier, Mini Miss Einstein. Except that Cat Kat is wise and all-knowing and Mini Miss Einstein holds a naive intelligence, nevertheless unbound enthusiasm and great capacity to learn. Since Cat Kat is by a skeptic, she acquired trust with my Aunt Jean and Uncle Chuck--as well as myself--over a gradual period of time. Jean and Chuck started having Cat Kat over as a regular catfood dinner guest. You could tell that she was very sensitive and observant of us. Every single move was very cautious, meaningful, and well-planned out. She could adapt and manipulate. Cat Kat slowly moved into the house and essentially became facultatively obligate with Jean and Chuck.

Despite her petite size (associated with stunted growth?), Cat Kat survived the streets, competed and fended off the big cats, fleed from gnarly predators, survived several encounters with disease (I'm sure), and even had a litter (I suppose diffused all over my Aunt and Uncle's neighborhood in southern Corona, California). Besides achieving affinity with us over the need of food, Cat Kat is overall fiesty. She allows some petting and holding, but she needs her space. Some healthy distance.

I guess she reminds me a lot of myself!

To this day, I still feel fortunate that I had a short stretch of photographic time with Cat Kat on a sweltering afternoon in July of 2006. I am assuming that she was so hot, so lazy that she didn't even care about the presence of my camera. Cat Kat was perhaps more concerned about remaining cool in the shade at the fringes of my aunt and uncle's household's shadow. That afternoon, I captured an entire series of majestic images that she would have never allowed me to acquire if under "normal" temperature ranges.

(5). I have found great irony in this circumstance because when Cat Kat died--when I FOUND OUT that Cat Kat was mawled by a coyote--I remained distraught that entire evening. Arriving in Corona after a long car drive from Santa Barbara, I was informed by my aunt and uncle informed about the horrid news in the livingroom. They even placed images of Cat Kat on top of a couple of shelves around the house. You could tell that my Aunt and Uncle already went through their grieving a few days before, and they were “already over it” by the time the news reached me. But now it was my turn to go through some form of Autonomic Grief Response. I remember a void overcoming me. I am sure I cried. But I most vividly remembered my rambling to my aunt and uncle, attempting to answer the question “What does it all mean?” while they both stared at me blankly and in slight tragic amusement.

I was bargaining with my strange conglomeration of emotions that dealt with the notion of loss in my life. I did not cry when my grandmother Kiki passed away. I was 16 years old. All graphic events associated with radiation and chemotherapy occurred in Greece, for my others eyes to witness, but not my own. Apparently I did not cry when I found out about Kiki’s passing. My sister remembered that I did not register. I remained stoic and stayed in my room for a week. I suppose I was overly preoccupied with being in a stupor over schoolwork. Or maybe, I just kept busy because I didn’t know even HOW to process such a tragic event so distant and disconnecting in space and time. I knew my grandmother more through sing-along birthday cards and mailed presents and sporadic phone calls rather than as human being.

It’s funny to think, Death of a Grandmother is a point-source instantaneous event of shock. Death and Decay of the Environment is a diffused, widespread source occurring over longer periods of time. Talk about Loss taking the Face of Extreme Events and Shifting Baselines!

I did not cry when my Grandmother Marion passed away. And if I ever did, I was probably 15 years old, when me and my family first registered that she had Alzheimer’s disease, which took in the form over the years, slow short and long term memory decay to loss of basic motor and visceral skills. It’s a strangely beautiful disease, even though my grandmother was getting older, it was as if she was being slowly reduced to a childlike, fetal state. Or more biologically, from a mentally conscious state to a vegetative, visceral state. From Age 90 to Age 2 for brain and motor functions. I guess the three pivotal shifts in behavior of my grandmother were (1) increased repetition in conversations, (2) reduced capacities to operate in the kitchen, and (3) transfer of function over Christmas from buying presents to receiving a small packet of money.

At age 15, I wrote a science report on Alzheimer’s Disease within my tenth grade honors English course with Dr. Jimmy Hunter (funny to think I voluntarily wrote a science report in an English class). Though I was receiving a grade for this effort, it seemed like I was engaging in this activity more so as a cathartic, ritualistic endeavor. Informing myself on the latest science allowed me to deal with my emotions (which were marginally expressed through a few isolated bouts of tears) and prepared me on what to expect in the upcoming years. At that point in time, I was still hopeful that medications could exist to cure my grandmother. Alas, she only took medications that slowed down and stabilized the process. Not reverse it.

By the time my grandmother passed in October of 2007, I was in the middle of a quarter system. I did not emotionally register the event, perhaps because I couldn’t have the capacity to. I was in an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by unfamiliar people. I was in the middle of an academic quarter, fighting for my academic survival, attempting to transfer from UCR to UCSB. All I could do was lock myself in my room and write for a few hours about the occasion. Nevertheless, my father had to strategically inform me of the passing 930 am in the morning. On the embarkment of a shxtty day! I was more sad that my father and grandfather were upset, not even my own self.

Overall, I couldn’t register emotionally. I was over it. My emotions decayed simultaneously with the diminution of my grandmother’s capacities over the course of ten years of consciousness of the disease. There was nothing sudden about the act. I was in part relieved. All I knew is that the day she passed, I was ready to set aside time to write and collect my thoughts into one coherent pile of visuaemotional experience.

I don’t know, keeping old people alive is like trying to maintain jewelry: there is more psychological investment than pragmatic-resource-societal investment in the endeavor. It is a very expensive suite of activities (most medical care in this country is devoted to the extension of dying people’s lives by 6 months), almost as if people were in denial of the inevitable. I think many people attempt to keep older people alive—though technically in ancestral, indigenous societies they would have been long gone at a much earlier eage—just to keep the younger generation in one psychological piece. Because Death and Loss requires one to reflect and struggle to maintain being in one piece. It is a struggle to re-occupy a vacant niche space of the mind with new strings of purpose, value, and attachment.

After these two passings in my life, I was starting to become concerned about my emotional dysfunction—for mourning more profoundly on the passing of Cat Kat than my own two grandmothers—until there was a recent scare in the family involving an accident with my grandfather Ray. The thought of his passing placed my in a frightening state of uncontrollable breathing and wailing, such that my sister had to come and rescue me from my own isolation. I immediately went from analytical productivity mode to artistic mournful mode, in which I finished writing a song entitled "Two Generations Removed from the Land" and I photoshopped a bunch of images of my grandfather and the family. Though it was disastrous to experience this hurricane-like upwelling of sadness, I was in part relieved that I acted in this manner. Maybe my mind barely exists within normal range of human response to loss.

(6). I also found it ironic that when I am informed through screaming shells and boxes of blinking lights that Starving Africans croak, rainforests and endangered species of beetles become extinct, and polar bears are supposedly drowning at exorbitant rates, I feel nothing. I feel absolutely nothing. More of the same. The global human drama that is a distant illusion to my immediate existence. Hence. I feel NOTHING. Anyone have a grant to ship me off to Africa? Maybe I’ll feel something.

The presence of this little sage creature of Cat Kat was a multi-sensory experience that I was fortunate to capture in a sliver of space and time. She embodied my whole world, my whole sense of purpose and reality—even if it was just an infinitesimally small slice of space and time, captured in a photograph. This tiny cat was a big piece of my existence.

(7). My aunt’s neighbors found the creature mawled in their yard—most likely by some coyote. Talk about forensics that lacked rigor. My aunt had to perform the unfortunate deed of identifying the dismembered body. Apparently the coyote didn’t do a complete job in consuming the corpse. If you kill a creature, might as well finish your meal, dxmmit! The bastard.

What a random lottery serial killing! Out of all feline creatures of this planet to which I have no particular affinity to, they took away the Feline Love of My Life!

This was a case of some serious injustice of ecological gangsterism within this segment of the neighborhood in Corona, California. You cannot rely on the United States law anymore—as of what I have experienced twice—We would ultimately have to take these serious matters into our own hands….

I was attempting to convince Jean and Chuck to send out PimpDog Rusty (sharp German pointer with a high energy budget, rigorously trained to be a bird dog) out on the streets and take down the mongrel serially murdered Pure Innocence (new word: Ecological Serial Killer, flippin’ coyotes!). Jean and Chuck were hesistant and were not sure if Rusty were well-qualified for such a dangerous, undercover task. At that point in space and time, I was ready to take down the bastard myself. My aunt and uncle delt with the situation by getting a new cat by the name of Sophie. She is still a kitten. She is very alert and hyperactive. I thought I was a stress case, but that cat needs to take a chill pill. My aunt Jean said that it is very nice to have a cat around again, but nothing can ever replace the essence of Cat Kat.

The last time I saw cat Kat alive was in July, on my grandfather Ray’s birthday. I took pictures of her with my sister Jenny.

It’s October 2008 and I am still not recooperated.

God Dxmmit I am supposed to dissect a shark next week, and in a couple of weeks? Skin a rabbit. Shxt.

I recently learned that many house cats are shrunken beasts, derived from larger ancestors. Dr. Sweet said they scaled down geometrically rather than allometrically. He explained that these cats and even some birds (like hawks) are essentially miniaturized predators with superb abilities that allow them to take down prey of much greater size to themselves. I suppose they are then essentially ordinary humans with Superhuman qualities—the whole batman and super man effect: micro body size with megapowers.

Ha ha. Science anthropomorphizes organisms all the time. And I am just another victim of that. Just saw Mike Kuehn, UCSB grad student who was a TA for my animal behavior course back in winter of 2002. He made me sensitive of my “behavioral ecological” interpretation of this personal experience with a pet. Proximate factors. Ultimate factors.

Dear Cat Kat. As a scientist who understands the concept of Diffuse Re-incarnation (all elements on the planet are Geodegradeable anyway)… Though you have been dismantled physically, you are recycled elements of this Planet. And somehow I will interact with your elements, consume you physically and mentally. I have assembled you as holistically as possible through my writing and art. I had the privilege to know you. You touched my mind’s heart so immensely. I never loved a cat before, but I love Cat Kat. She gives me hope in myself and the world. Love has conglomerated as your physical presence has diffused and recycled. And this love shall shape-shift into other entities in my life in a continuum of mental experiences of deep attachment. For all things are the same, even though they seem different.

Inside me. And Everywhere.

Friday, October 17, 2008

333. Warm Welcome to the Donald Bren School, UC Santa Barbara: Paradoxical Existence in Transition

Above is a Picasaweb slideshow of images I took of the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UC Santa Barbara. My new academic home. I have close to nothing to complain about! I wrote a rough draft of an essay entitled "A Warm Welcome to Bren, UC Santa Barbara: Paradoxical Existence in Transition" but that will be another blog. This slideshow is almost like an advertisement for an Academic Resort. Essentially, UCSB is like an Academic Retirement Home for the Intellectually Rich and Famous. Aka a Sink for Nobel Laureates at the End of their Lives. I suppose that's why our school's hype has been going from stinkin' MTV party school to "The Nation's Most Intelligent Party School." The media makes me wanna puke.

I wrote a few captions to go along with the images, so here are some of the captions below:

Blurb 1: I am not particularly enthused about taking pictures of buildings--unless if they are taken from airplanes--or I consider buildings to be the "clothing" or "bower" to human creatures--much like a bryozoan colony or a coral reef or honey comb structure--but I took pictures of my new academic home at the Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management (UC Santa Barbara) for orientation and focusing purposes. These photographs are to compliment an essay I am currently writing entitled "A Warm Welcome to Bren, UC Santa Barbara: Paradoxical Existence in Transition."

Blurb 2: I love Oran Young’s lab! All the grad students are from very diverse backgrounds and are overall very chill people. The Young Lab is a “dry lab.” There is a Commons Table and lots of book shelves filled with interesting books on law and management and environment, etcetera. There are no strange pieces of equipment within the lab, like spectro-therma-pani-stetho-scopa-gadgeto thingamajigs that map atoms, measure protein reaction rates, record tissue metabolism, analyze water quality, design computers, map mountain ranges, or chart stars and galaxies. I guess our lab is outdoors mostly. We study human behavior… relative to the environment. If we need strange, expensive machines, we can borrow them from our friendly neighbors all over campus. I think Oran’s lab is question-driven, not machine-constrained. We will mix and match any possible machine that will give us the capacity to answer scientific questions, even a peculiar machine called the Common Sense of Our Own Brains.

Blurb 3: The Aesthetic Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UC Santa Barbara. Hollow Interior of the Building. Optimized Space for Socializing. As if I am psychologically analyzing the Interior Design of Starbucks! Talk about intense competition for Study Niche Space!

Blurb 4 (from an email with Maria Gordon):
Hi Maria! Thanks access to the office! Woohoo! Home away from Home! It’s nice to be out of my room (in Goleta) once in a while. It was getting very stuffy in my room today. Tomorrow will be orientation to the Bren computers around 10am and I will coordinate my retrieval of keys around that time.

I do say. My first year of graduate school at UCLA I lived in “the basement” aka “the dungeon” of the Botany building. It had no windows and the fumes from the construction across the street would give me headaches all year round. At UC Riverside, my office existed within a paleontology lab extension room called “the closet.” Again, there were no windows. Roberto, a graduate student who just moved out of the closet, claimed that were potentially unsafe materials free-floating in the air and suggested I didn’t spend too much time in there. Thankfully now the whole interior of the Geology Building at UCR is being gutted.

I feel so wonderfully upgraded to the fourth floor of the Bren Building: a beautiful view that knicks the ocean and even an extra work out for the upper legs with four flights of stairs! I don’t feel I deserve this, but in the end, it makes me feel like a human to have a window and fresh, salty ocean air. And the ocean view is just a giant strawberry on top a huge pile of whip cream!

I think this environment will enhance my productivity greatly!

PDF for "Room Without a Window" is found here:

PDF for "Dichotomous Environments" is found here:

332. "Live in Illusion" Poem / Song

Live in Illusion
I wanted to say
"Hello, how are you-oooou?"
But maybe you thought
That I was a foo-ooooouh.
I am so timid though
I seem so bol-ooooold.
And I'm so sorry
I rubbed off so col-ooooold.
Just give me the illusion
Your mind is free-eeeee.
Just give me the illusion
You might care about me-eeeee.
Just keep me in delusion
So I can keep on dreamin'
Prevent disappointment
From too much Knowing.
Gave enough information--to mold
An Ideal World of Seems.
And that's just enough of
What I need.
And that's just enough of
What I need.

Sometimes Ignorance Can be Bliss. Amen.

Today I told Eriko--a psychologist at UCSB--about how unstable my emotions were when I started college. I explained to her that I have a high energy budget, physically and mentally (my sister says I have a Type A personality), but the whole challenge was how to channel this energy and project this energy onto my environment. How do I come to define my purpose? How do I come to choose the people I affiliate with? How do I come to choose what tools I use to perceive and interact with reality? What type of environment do I want to be in? My mind's ability to construct an illusion of a MicroCosmal Bubble of Humanity was very limited. I had a struggled sense of purpose in a pinball university (UC Davis), but over time, things started to sort as I spent more time in my room writing, figuring out what was in my brain. People are so detached from themselves and lose a sense of purpose and direction. If you are lost in your mind, you will always be lost in the university. That is why I need to hide and write. Chronically reassess my emotional and mental condition and state of purpose and direction. If you lose touch with yourself, the university becomes a hostile place and you will be drowning rather than swimming.

331. Poem / Song "Mental X"

I am essentially brain-dead on a Friday night. I need to get something done so I decided to work with the lyrics of a couple of songs I invented in the car. Quite therapeutic.
Mental X
Who are you
to treat me like a fool?
Caring for you
had been my own abuse.
I have more value
to the vessel of Self.
So now...
You're a Mental X
for my own health.
You're a Mental X
for my own health.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

330. "An Ecology of Science: Discovering the Process of Discovery" Proposed Article for CCS Notes, Recommended by Dr. Carolyn Allen

Ecology of Science: Discovering the Process of Discovery. 1.
Ecology of Science: Discovering the Process of Discovery. 2.
I have been working very hard to learn how to distribute my writing far beyond my blog. It had been largely an uphill battle of networking with people--the people in charge of the regulation of communication in mass-production technology--... until today. I had been taking a College of Creative Studies Course in journal prompt writing with Dr. Carolyn Allen. Today we were prompted to write about an experience with "discovery." There were three or four subjects I could have written about: (1) my discovery of the scientific method at UCSB through a killifish-sailfin molly predation project, (2) the discovery of the operations of my right brain (systematic spacetime creativity), awakened by Dr. Sam Sweet and the College of Creative Studies (very overwhelming experience in the spring break of 2001) and (3) the discovery that the underlying framework of science is embedded within value systems, through the observations of my father: (a) his construction of native versus invasive plants, playing the game of "good versus evil" at Sycamore Canyon Park (Riverside), and (b) his playing of "action figures" of native versus invasive with plants in his front yard. I am sure there are several other discovery stories in my head--in fact, far too many--but but my first thoughts of discovery revolved around my experiences with science and discovering overall methodologies of my brain.
Ultimately, I chose the first story... in concern of the discovery of the process of discovery. To write about my annexation of the scientific method through the guidance of Drs. Armand Kuris and Mark Torchin on a predation project with killifish and sailfin mollies at the Ballona Wetlands. I will have to back-pocket the other stories for now. You can only do one thing at a time. Sigh. So I was told I could multi-task. Not with writing. Most certainly not with writing. Writing is a multi-tasking endeavor, even though it seems like just one task.
Something I wish I added to the article: elaborating that aura-esque experience of annexation of science. As if I had become addicted to learning through systematic direct experience, just how other people seemed to become addicted to heroine or food or some other form of environ-mental drug. It seems like there are self- and socially-acceptable addictions as well as self- and socially-destructive addictions. Doing science is mostly a positive endeavor for science... unless you are into designing atomic bombs....
Aside: I realized it is always safe to write blogs as long as that you extract all positive beauty from people and disregard the negative. And if I write anything negative, then it is about an issue that is directly harmful to myself and that I must keep the person or event as anonymous as possible. This is ultimately my filter for writing blogs. Thankfully enough, my mind is very positive and constructivist, so I don't have any apparent problem in writing and creating art.

329. Evolution of the Biologically Incorrect and Ecology of Scale Logos

Picasaweb Slideshow of Elements and the Evolution of Layers of the Logo.

One of the best logos emerged from the exercise.
One of the best logos emerged from the exercise.
One of the best logos emerged from the exercise.
One of the best logos emerged from the exercise.
One of the best logos emerged from the exercise.

One of the best logos emerged from the exercise.

This weekend I performed a solo meditation at the downtown Kinkos (amen for being 24 hours) and finally cranked out some working logos for my pursuits in this blog and graduate school in general--"Ecology of Scale" and "Biologically Incorrect."

Thanks for a long stretch of time, I added multiple layers of information to this logo. Ranging from 10-20 layers, as if I were composing a full-blown classical music or jazz piece. Given that stretch of space and time, the question is WHY did I design the logos the way that I did. I myself pre-meditated a good deal of the logo (found scratch drawings lying all over my room, actually), but I am sure there is chance hapinstance elements within the logo that just happened to "look good" at the time, and discovered this aesthetic strictly by accident. I was just speaking to Dr. Suarez last night (EEMB Department UCSB) in concern of the proximate and ultimate causes of the design of organisms, just like there are proximate and ultimate causes in the spatial-temporal design of art. I think the main accidental discovery from the images above is the "gray bar" behind the primary font of the logo. I still think there can be some edits made. Oh well. Next round!

First of all, I made the logo because I am becoming (marginally) Institutionally Incorporated at UCSB--not just ANY university, JUST UCSB (plus Oran gave me the nickname of "scale girl," the pressure is truly on)--and I have to design some beautiful piece of conceptual art that embodies who I exactly am and what I exactly intend to do at that point in space and time. Visual artwork (and music) radiates more conceptualism and emotional drive than just pure words in 8-point Garamond font. I already created three primary logos and images, which I gave to Oran (1) The Box (Squirrel Trying to Get the Bird Out of the Cage) (2) Existence in Context (the girl portrayed in Van Gogh or Da Vinci context of Planet Earth) (3) and the Biomathematika Sunflower. So, let's expand this set of logos here.

Geeze, since this is my Ph.D. topic, I started to realize I could talk about these logos FOREVER. So, I better refrain and pace myself here and just etch out some reasons for the included elements within the picture.

(1). The two quizzical ants on different parts and scales of a branching network. These two curious little ants are in quest of the big picture. Based on my writing with The Elephant and the Oak Tree, these two creatures are both very confused about their identities and their perceptions of Reality. They are trying to figure out whether they are on an elephant or an oak tree.

(2). One ant is carrying a piece of equipment, more so a lens. This represents TECHNOLOGICAL-DEPENDENCE of COLLECTIVE PERCEPTION: how scientists are attempting to investigate multiple scales of reality through the medium of externalized tools (not incorporated or evolved from their bodies). It is of question as to what scientists would truly know if you stripped these tools from their collections. Perhaps they would be limited to perceiving certain narrow layers and scales of reality. Another huge problem is that scientists have become OBLIGATELY attached to technology in their thought processes and conclusions rather than FACULTATIVELY attached, aka TECHNOLOGICAL CRUTCHING. So, essentially, machines have taken over the power of human reasoning and the ability for the humans to connect the dots with their own brains, aka Common Sense for individual and collective survival.

(3). There are three boxes, each drawn at different scales. I saw this pattern of arrangement of boxes on the front cover of an Ecology textbook, perhaps from MIT Press. My father showed it to me sometime, and somehow it stuck in my head. (I talked to James, the science writer for Bren, a couple weeks back about how my brain works: my right brain is a sponge: it picks up elements from its surroundings without any necessary prompt or any motivation--e.g. grades--and then I combine these elements, tweak them, and form new products. I have been aware of this intrinsic process of my brain, ever since I stook up an art teacher in a GATE art class. Here is another case in point--sponging up "the boxes" and dumping them into my logo).

(4). The branching patterns transcending the boxes reflect my own "fractal" neurological processes of scale-based reasoning. I feel that the process of "natural selection" whether its organisms or ideas, leads to systems with patterns, chipped off with elements of uniqueness. I think that scientific construct of branching trees doesn't necessarily equate to patterns of our environment, but more so reflects our own fractal-like perception of our environment. We use branching networks as an organizing tool for organizing Reality. In this case, I overlaid branching networks (let's just say they are branches of an oak tree) because I am trying to investigate patterns of logic in scientific and scholarly thought across different scales in space and time--in concern of human-environmental problems. I also ask many scientists, "How can you navel gaze into your own specialized little niche (have a warped log-log view of Reality) if you have lost sight of the big picture?" Ultimately, some scientists have lost relative context of their own reductionist research.

(5). And finally, I added a subset of the Biomathematika sunflower as an unknown treacherous landscape for the two little creatures, yet this landscape is beautiful, due to the fractal properties of the arrangement of [seeds]?

(6). The sixth layer is, of course, my own handwriting "Biologically Incorrect," "Ecology of Scale," and "Scale in Biological and Human-Environmental Systems." The word continues to propagate that I am a "living font." Should sell my hand-writing to the successor of Bill Gates. Will be an interesting business venture! Right. Back up funds for graduate school. I am sure!

328. Two Modifications of Opinions Article "The Living Human Guinea Pig of University Bureaucracy"

Hark! I donate my brain to society!

PDF file for second round of The Living Human Guinea Pig of University Bureaucracy:
I was very thankful that Hector Javkin was willing to work with me very, very late on a Thursday night to help me chop a 1200 word article into a 687 word article. He even forced me to make the edits that very night on his computer. Wow, Hector knows me well! He knows I would have procrastinated with the edits otherwise!

PDF files for the third round of The Living Human Guinea Pig of University Bureaucracy:
This version manifested itself last night, though I had a conversation with Nicki Arnold, the lead Opinions Editor of the paper, on Sunday night. She seemed to be very nice and upfront. She said the article was suitable for the Nexus, but that I cannot submit pieces with bold and itallics all over it. If I want to emphasize an idea, it will have to be in caps format. It seems very important to get to know the editors of the newspaper, so you know what their standards are, and what specifically they need. I am thankful for Dr. Nancy Baron for providing scientists advice on how to write Op Eds.

I find it absolutely tragically beneficial to see my mind convert over time. From last year to this year, I have transformed my value from private journal writing for self sanity to public blogging and making dramatic attempts to make my writing and artwork accessible to other people. Not that my public face is completely unfiltered. I still keep my deep dark thoughts (not that I have too many of them) to myself. I have been writing for myself and writing alone for so long that I am tired to self-amusement, and that I need to perform services to society as a writer. Hence, I have been submitting opinions columns to the Daily Nexus, Spectrum, Ecotone (literary magazine on re-imagining place, based in the East Coast), the Santa Barbara Independent. I will get rejected several times, but thankfully blogs are default guarantees of self publication. I will always have a fall-back in terms of where to place my writing.

The institutional channeling of writing is difficult and takes time. You have to develop relationships with people. Relationships with very specific people, like the editors of the newspaper. They are being chronically bombarded with emails, so it is very important to present yourself in person, to make the experience much more human. Especially since I have no institutional credentials on the tail end of my name. I am very happy thus far to have had a friendly contact with The Daily Nexus opinions editor and it is muy essential that I sign up for Daily Nexus training (again, sigh) such that I can start writing some pieces for the paper. But I think this quarter I will stick to Op Eds. After all, I am a very opinionated person! Ha ha!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

327. Creativity and Imagination is a Matter of Survival, Long Quote of the Day

The failure of this global society at the brink of human-environmental tragedy is the inability for the individual human to conceptualize all that one cannot perceive beyond one’s immediate vicinity. To have the ability to imagine possible worlds and realities of peoples, places, technologies, resources that are essentially sustaining one’s existence in a very indirect, diffuse way, with huge gaps of experience and knowledge in space and time. Survival in such a modern world must go far beyond careless reasoning of purposeful provincialism and instant gratification, but one must have the capacity to imagine greater landscapes in space and time, deep into the past, and potentially into better, foreseeable futures.

Inspired from a conversation with Chris Evelyn.

326. A Graduate Student's Log-Log Design of Reality: A Provincialist View Embedded Within an Illusory Matrix of Globalism and Scientific Universality

A Graduate Student's Log-Log Design of Reality: A Provincialist View Embedded Within an Illusory Matrix of Globalism and Scientific Universality
[subset of an essay]

The other day I asked my evolutionary biology professor, “If I wore a pair of sunglasses that took the logarithm of reality, how would the world look like?” He stared at me quizzically and I shamefully mumbled to him that I was interested in the concept for science fiction purposes. He then proceeded to respond, in which I have come to interpret that wearing a log-log pair of shades would allow me to perceive everything in my surroundings as closer and smaller even though these elements still existed physically at the same distance. Contrastingly, all unknown elements of my surroundings would be perceived as farther away and “larger/grandiose” even though they existed at a fixed distance….

Who would have known that this absurd log-log question actually had come to be more practical and real-world than I thought?

Isn’t this how humans perceive themselves and reality after all? In a warped, log-log scale Truman show bubble? Don’t we all hold a direct, intimate Provincialist View embedded within a mass-education-and-technology-constructed, indirect, detached Matrix Illusion of Globalism and Scientific Universality?

It is as if our minds evolved to construct this navel-gazing bubble of Humanity—a conglomerate ingroup of subjects (places, resources, technologies, people) that have been assigned emotional and intellectual value—that has no particular set of physical borders, especially within a global pinball, pseudo-autistic system of chronic moving-and-shaking objects that remain backdrop homogeneous fuzzy blur to our senses.

It seems that our minds’ perception of our surroundings translate into a gradient of a few elements of highly-resolved, qualitative PCA-analyses of multi-dimensional meaning, which then upon spatial-temporal expansion from ourselves drowns within several elements of low resolution, which remain to us as mere elements—err, mental ghosts, so to speak—we pass by on a daily basis without any form of mental registration. We pass by hundreds, if not thousands of humans every single day, knowing they have beautiful, colorful, highly detailed stories, yet do we have mental capacity to register them?

The tragedy of this modern mental landscape is that it provides this illusion of infinite choice (especially in the university) while simultaneously holding unstable, fickle, ephemeral properties—a state of chronic, rapid change. These volatile environmental conditions of near infinite options and combinations forces us to chronically question and think about our own volatile mental conditions: what we think about, what we are doing, why we think and do what we do, what should we value… hold on to, grasp onto… despite this hostile world of ephemerality.
It forces me to ask the deep questions. Why me here now? What is my purpose? What’s the point? What is the point of my existence? My relative existence? What is the combination of people, resources, places to help me with the process of doing what I need to do? To help me design a Reality of Meaning? What is my bower, my warped log-log bubble of Reality? What to include in my bower of purpose? What do I tune out, dumped into the world of global human chaos of process? Why does my bower take such a shape? Was it intentional, purposeful design? Or was it an accident? Or was it chance opportunity meeting a prepared mind? The synergism of probability and seeming determinism? Ready for a collaboration? A co-evolution of progress and flow of elements?

Hence, a Eusocial Ecological Niche Space—so I call it—is slowly, generated by our minds.

In the massive pool of intellectual flesh within the university, my streamline flow of thoughts have been desperately going through a very intense sorting and filtering process, just as the human body and mind intrinsically filters the intake of resources and stimuli. What to include in my intellectual territory of maintenance and innovation? What to toss aside and disregard?

And with this the horrible notion of a seemingly ritualistic exercise of an attempt to achieve my own mental sanity, it seems like as soon as I find emotional value in some individual or endeavor, the deep bonds seem to break as quickly as they formed. The only way how I have come to survive in this world of unstable molecular human-environmental interactions of chronic fragmentation is through the constructionist actions of my own writing and art.

My mother chronically reminds me that the only vessel I will truly come to know—and am essentially stuck with for the rest of my life—is is my very own Self. I might as well get chummy with it. “Hello, me! How are you doing?”

So, to continue the formulation of a sense of purpose and existence, I need to chronically tune in to this inner world and tend to this internal, evolutionary and proximally-evolved bower that ultimately constructs this externally-warped bubble of supposedly meaningful Reality.

I am thoroughly convinced that our minds did not evolve to exist within a 6-billion ingroup human leaf cutter ant colony. This global system: is it a success, a triumph? Technologically, perhaps. Psychologically? More so a psychological turmoil and failure. The greatest war that seems to exist today is within our minds, attempting to design external meaning. Success or failure of Globalism, it doesn’t matter. I am too pre-occupied in creating my own provincial log-log world of Reality. Otherwise I will breach my mental carrying capacity.

I suppose ignorance can be bliss. Or our minds constrain us ignorance. In all honesty, an illusory, emotionally-detached global view—a.k.a. provincially warped global ignorance—is all that I can mentally sustain.

325. "The World is Going to Hxll / Might as Well Mess People's Mind's About It"

Poem / Song "The World is Going to Hxll / Might as Well Mess with People's Minds About It" PDF file version available here:
Was inspired to write this after an evening at the Scott Chatenever's household Had an opportunity to chat with Scott, Brian (Ph.D. student in Susan Mazer's lab, a new Brennie--mind is blanking out right now, and Mark, who went to a public meeting about Gaviota public lands yesterday, spoke in front of a crowd of hundreds).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

324. Scale/Zen of Photography: A Case Study with Patricia, a Santa Barbara Local (Initial Discussion Evolution of Art / Scientific Perception) Part 1

Patricia Close Up. Prototype image for a Hollywood Character in Desperate Housewives and Sex in the City.
Patricia Half-body Shot. Very lively, animated, friendly, motherly personality. Very photogenic.
Patricia 3/4 Body Shot. Camera Tilt for Aesthetics.
This was an accidental photograph, but I love it! Very strange aesthetic and distribution of elements across the image. Patricia's smile enhances everything!
Full body shot, in context of outcrops! Rocks, rocks, rocks! I love rocks! Any fossils? I wonder if the dudes seeing this image are even thinking about the outcrops behind Patricia.... Optimally aesthetic woman in front of beautiful rocks and beautiful ocean! Context! Context! Context! Could be an adbuster idea in the [near] future. Sell Nature to Society with Evolutionary Salespitching!
Patricia Full Body, Sitting Down. Silhouette effect against the sun.
Subject: Patricia, friend of Kent Schiff, rock crab distributor!
Location: Arroyo Burro Beach, Santa Barbara, California
Time: Sunset Golden Hour, September 2007.
Can't believe it took me so long to write a blog about this! Please see Blog number 324 for the full multi-layered journal/analysis of the experience. Systematic creativity is only fun in human context!
Here are the links to the full album: