Sunday, November 23, 2008

360. Poem / Song "Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons:: Tragedy of the Unmanaged Self"

Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons
Is a Tragedy of the Unmanaged Self
This "Common Good" how can I bother
When I don't even have my own health?


I am no Sacrificial Lamb
I am no Jesus Christ
So I must take my own stand
Just so I can survive--

But when the cost of the "Common Good"
Comes at a great [exorbitant] price
I wipe my hands clean, cut the strings
and wave good-bye, wave good-bye

By the ocean, in the trees
Does reside my free mind
But the omnipresent "Common Good"
My form is strapped and tied--

It is everywhere--
A Malignant Tumor--
I was born in its Womb
It's taking me to the Tomb

It was an illusion of lying
To say I'm part of a Free Society
I had no choice to be born
In this Matrix Machine
In this Common Bad
Of Inhumane Properties

Back to the oceans, the mountains
Living in the trees
Just let me be, let us be
To our own Zion....

I must give credit to Dr. Osborne--history and philosophy of science guru at UCSB--who mentioned "tragedy of the unmanaged commons" in one of our conversations, which spurred this poem....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

359. Environmental Defense Center (EDC) Thank Goodness It's Friday (TGIF)! Fall Feast, October 10, 2008, Part 2

Photography has the capacity to capture subjects and objects in such a manner that is un-apparent to the human eye at the moment of creation--but only perceived through retroactive scrutiny and photoshop modification.

The above image was possibly the best and most peculiar image I took at the Environmental Defense Center (EDC) Thank Goodness It's Friday (TGIF) Fall Feast Event. I had jotted these notes down at the time: "Best lighting, optimal distribution of pigeonholes, capturing a mesmerizing stare of an unknown human being of optimal aesthetics. Some kind of mise-en-scene effect." So, here's some follow-up.

I am intrigued by my mind's ability to construct a "deep order" of an image that is still surrounded and immersed in chaos: the intense, seemingly meaningful stare of some random male... embedded within a matrix of white noise perturbations. I find this picture fascinating in terms of the evolutionary implications of a female mind's construction of reality in the presence of males. As if intense backdrop falls out like bunch of fumigated flies.

I don't know who the guy is--and it is beside the point--nor do I desire to know, but he is most certainly qualitifed to do high-end model shoots in Los Angeles (lucky him his genes played out to render a biological sculpture of optimal proportions). And it seemed like the ladies of the table were kind of responding: "Oh ya. Sure! Point the camera in THAT direction." It's an evolutionary instinctive tendency, isn't it?But as a photographer, I have a sense of empowerment to have the ability to pristinely capture such a moment--the ephemeral, dynamic positioning of elements crystallized and sorted to centrality by a yearning stare--captured forever?! Bingo!

The other elements surrounding this man are in great part distracting, but the peculiar sincerity and directness of the stare--topped off with a seemingly "knowing smile"?! Perhaps not in a male mind, but in a female mind, these factors allow the hierarchization and fading-away of these distractions. Very kind smile. An attempt at sincerity, if not sincere in real life. That picture made my night. Capturing ephemerality... forever!

Gawdzeeks, talk about my, random-walk, non-academic criticisms and reflections! Flippin' A! Such is the essence of EcoCritique? Eegots!

I suppose it's one of those images you wished that everyone you encountered in your daily life... you wish you could stare at each other in the face in a meaningful, penetrating manner--as if you were taking a whirlwind adventure into their minds--rather than with the gloss of an eye, as if two moving objects were blindly passing each other without any sense of motive, purpose, or conscious existence. Such is the case most of the time.

All this wine and dine, I kind of felt "caring for the environment" was in part an elitist intellectual luxury, which made me feel in part very guilty for thinking about what I do. I wouldn't be thinking about this kind of stuff on the condition that I was a starving, mal-nutritioned child in Africa. I would be thinking about my mom and my next meal. That's it. But no. In Santa Barbara, on the condition of being well-fed and having all basic resources accessible in an instantly gratifying way... there is a group of individuals who have come to care about "the environment" much farther beyond the immediate proximity of their own lives. Talk about Maslow's Ladder! It's not that it's good. Not that it's bad. It just is. I have 12 free hours of the day to think about something after my basic needs are met. I could be rotting at a dead-end job, getting addicted to tweaking whenever I had a chance. Or it's not like it's "better" to go out half-naked in the forest and beat on some drums! Or I could think and do something that is beneficial to myself, to others, to the community, and to the overall environment. So, such is an Intellectual Luxury of meditating on "the environment." At least 80% of my clothes come from Goodwill. I am surrounded by people with similar values. That is all that matters. So? Whatever--

Scrap Notes, Part 2.

In continuation of the poetic theme: "The world is going to hxll. Might as well mess with people's minds about it. The world is going to hxll. Not going to let it take me down with it."

I have encountered an intriguing, charismatic group of people who are all interested in "the environment." Yes, this amorphous thing called "the environment," whether they want to or need to "save it," or "conserve it," or "manage it," or no--err "optimally manage it," or "play and roll in it," or "lightly tread on it," or "mitigate it"--you mean "bulldoze-a-marsh-and-save-a-pond-it," or "consume it," or "produce it," or "extract it," or "distribute it," or "dump-your-less-toxic-waste-in-it," or "restore it," or "reconstruct it"--you mean "Designer-Ecosystem-It" --physically and mentally, within moderation, to whatever baseline they desire it to be--whether it is a baseline of necessity of human survival shifting along a spectrum to a mere baseline of visuacoustic emotional, "spiritual" aesthetic, to the exclusion or fusion of humanly-manufactured values and baselines in between. Everything, of course, is in moderation, even Moderation itself.

But for sure, it's a community of people who don't want to be "detached" from this thing called "the environment." These individuals are trying to find meaning, to connect with this "environment," whatever an amorphous internal TV-box-video-game construct each individual mind creates "the environment" to be.

As so we all come together to commune: "To the Environment!" As if we are all speaking the same language. As if we have some form of common perception. Which still remains a mystery to me as to whether this has been achieved, or remains a Cloak of Vagueness, Masked through the baseline of our own Verbage--err Verbosities. That, in result, can go emotionally and valuistically only so deep.

Well then. I guess I see the emergence of a few Ph.D. questions here....

Pardon my "snappy criticism" in this passage. Honestly, my attendance at EDC-TGIF did NOT inspire such a critical thought pattern, but I do say, perhaps the last dozen or so "for-the-environment" parties and shin-digs felt much like what I described above. When people communicate about environmental issues, are they really "communicating"? Or is there a barebone struggle in communication due to the fundamental vagueness of words used--nature, culture, environment, diversity, etcetera. It's a chronic problem I see ALL the time.

Three More Random Thoughts.

1. The mind is an internal landscape of interacting software and hardware programs. The challenge is to learn how to pick apart all the operations, and figure out which operations are working when and where, in resposne to what particular elements of environmental stimulation are present in your mind's construction of its surrounding environment. Why your mind tunes in, processes, and interacts with certain forms of environmental elements, and why other elements are tuned out. When and where and how your mind reaches environmental saturation in multi-tasking.

2. One time, I briefly stayed in an art lecture through the College of Creative Studies, and the instructor Graham Wakefield posed the question: is our perception of reality come in Discrete Packages of information, or is it more in a Continuum? Physics has described reality in a dualist manner--the dual-wave particle theory. One more deterministic and one more probablistic. You would think that this duality would scale out to our entire perception and interaction with reality. In part order, in part chaos, in part deterministic, in part probablistic. But not exclusively one or the other. The mind can process information in multiple different ways. Shallow processing. Deep processing. All depends on where you are at. What you will have the capacity to perceive. What you cannot perceive. My mind can process long, big chunks in the morning, but that becomes a futile endeavor later on in the day.

3. It's best to write everything out. Otherwise the ideas will come back to haunt you. ROUTINELY.

358. Environmental Defense Center: Thank Goodness It's Friday! Fall Feast, October 10, 2008, Part I

Portfolio of Best Photographs for the Environmental Defense Center "Thank Goodness It's Friday!" Fall Feast, October 10, 2008. Please see the next set of blogs for narrative embellishment of the event--and my own thoughts about environmental media, integrating the personal with the universal....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

357. The Elephant and the Oak Tree, Shifting of the Devotions Page

I have had a few extensive conversations with Dr. Osborne, a historian and philosopher of science, and I am now getting myself ready to continue writing The Elephant and the Oak Tree (EOT).

One thing for sure, several elements have shifted in my life since the begining of the quarter, like the dropping of a painful, confusing, in part inhumane relationship and the annexation and forging of new ones. These endeavors take time, and they totally rewire your mind. I suppose the goal is to associate yourself with those individuals who bring the best out of you, who want you to build and grow, like a juvenile oak tree going through intense growth spurts, not suppress you in futile sword-fighting combat of words.

I will have to change the "Devotions" part of EOT, in a very dramatic way. I will have to eliminate the last line of an individual whos name starts with "T." I had been living an Illusion of an Individual since April of 2008. Who people really are versus what they say they are. Massive discrepancy, not just in this individual, but in human beings overall.

I will have to add the lines below:

"To the essence of my grandfather
Who shifted my baseline
To great depths of space and time."

And to the Notion of Love.
Which comes in all mysterious shapes, sizes
Beautiful forms and processes.
This Love, which emerges
In the most unexpected of nooks and crannies
Of a dark Universe of seeming detachment and unrelatedness.
It is Love that allows one to drop Restrictions of Reality from one's brain
And inspires one to explore the Unbound Premises of the creative mind.
It is Love that grows branches, leaves, and flowers of Novel Trees of Non-linear Thought.
It is Love that has the capacity to consume and envelop all Darkness of Chaos
Into Hope. Into Design of Alternative Realities and Futures
That would not otherwise be perceived
By the constraints of physical reality....

To Face Death is to See Life.
To Live Life is to Survive.
To Survive is to Seek Love.
To Love is to Dream.
To Dream is to Heal Loss.
All broken pieces...
All open wounds...
Into a patchwork
Of Open Universes
For us all to share
And play
And dream....

For one day,
Through the Medium of Love
Our dreams shall Emerge
Into Reality.

356. Chez Mike Dillin: Une Nouvelle Maison (A Big Hug, Long Overdue)

Last night, I decided before I left to Riverside to spend a couple of "peaceful" days with my parents, that I would finally go and visit Mike Dillin, my "acquired third cousin." But, such a title is a bit too harsh and unrepresentative of our relationship. To me, Mike is more like a protective, witty (super-intelligent), rebellious older brother that I never had, but could only dream of having. But now I have him, and I sincerly felt that I took his presence for granted--especially ever since he left to New Orleans for a lengthy period of time (since Fall of 2007, I clearly remember).

Ever since Mike left, I went through Los Angeles and Santa Monica feeling empty, withdrawal. Not only I missed Mike, but I missed his experience of reality: his abode near by the Santa Monica pier, his stories working on TV and movie sets, his deep knowledge of Los Angeles, which to me I probably can play the Los Angeles Video Game at Level 2. And Mike plays Level 10, or Level 20. I don't know how to calibrate his knowledge of the area. To me, this city is a daunting, unmanageable, graspable zoo... still to this day. I also missed Mike's unique character: insane problem-solving intelligence not channeled through the university--but a little bit anti-university through the lens of his grandmother--who attempted to go to UCLA for graduate school but was discriminated back in the day because she was a female. Such stupidity of thought. I can barely imagine such a day. My being a female in the university was never really an issue--until I saw all these strange funding and scholarship opportunities that were catered toward "women in science." What's the big deal about "women in science"? I suppose I am to take a science / history of science course to understand the gorey details of misrepresentation of brains in science.

I also missed Mike as a mentor in the media business. Mike guided me towards signing up with Central Casting ( in order to be an extra on the Giant Movie Sets. I must say that 95% of businesses revolving around "make-it-in-the-movies-and-get-famous" are scams, and 5% are true in terms of having a working job as an extra. But once you know what are the "true gigs" from the scam, you are connected to 95% of all the movie production in Los Angeles. "You're in," so to speak.

I had two Extras experiences for "Made of Honor", a cheezy CHEEZY film with Patrick Dempsey (I did an airport scene and a Halloween scence, in which I was a punk rock hippi in the middle of spring 2007 at Occidental College, worked well, met an intelligent, thoughtful guy by the name of Matt Something-err-other, good guitarist and singer, has the whole Nick Drake feel to him). Never even hit the movie theaters. Just sold as a silly love flick in the front stand of Vons Grocery Stories. Patrick Dempsey is SO SHORT and SO YESTERDAY. I saw Patrick twice--live. He seems really cool as a human being, and in the end, that is all that matters. You are a human being at the core and whatever society makes you to be is an illusion just so society can make money off of you. Society's biological puppet, so to speak--what most actors are. Anyhoo. Mike also got me quite a few resume items to enter into the UCSB Environmental Media Program. Which reminds me, I never finished off making his business card, which I should make ASAP.

One time Mike even offered me a Production Assistant job, which... in the near future... I may actually pursue (as an internship experience for the summer, so to speak, during my Ph.D. ness). During Spring of 2007--during my horrible year of "Medieval Dark Period," being rejected by my family and academia (at least UC Riverside Academia) for being a scientist breaking out into pursuing art (I was also a housekeeper and caretaker for Momma, a Persian grandmother with severe arthritis in Mission Viejo, California, where my cousin Jennifer Harber lives). What I was doing--integrating science and art--made sense to me, but there was no place for this type of endeavor in the family or in society--where I could be "institutionally accepted for my individual identity"--but Mike Dillin always cared about me and helped me out during those trying times of extreme dichotomy between exploring individual identity despite the lack of support in society. Mike has his photography business shooting off--skyrocketing in terms of a very cool job with nice salary--he most certainly has a financially-well-to-do audience in Los Angeles, through the movie industry. Mike has a Nikon D100 and D200 (he may have a D80 or D90 now), which inspired me to get my first SLR camera, the Nikon D80 (graduated from the Nikon Coolpix 5700, which I used for a couple of years, but started to feel stifled). I remember Mike vividly telling me, "What is the difference between a talented paid photographer versus unpaid photographer? You don't need a certificate or degree. All you need is a big-chunky SLR camera. The equipment gives you credentials--automatically. You are in a position of media authority by the mere equipment of you use." About a month after stating this, I bought a Nikon D80 package deal (with two lenses) at a Costco out in Ontario or China (despite my desperate financial situation), and soon after that Mike hired me as his assistant for a few photography shoots. We did a string of events that revolved around "little girls one-year-old birthday parties" which was a riot act, taking pix of drooling kids having a blast with toys, living in immense happiness with major ignorance to the full scope of Reality. It was at these events that Mike trained me on using the SB-800 flash and the Gary Fong diffuser. Just last year I finally made a purchase of my own SB-800 flash and imitation diffuser from China (saved 20 bucks in the process!). Mike also hooked me up with an Alcoholics Anonymous Photography gig "Ride to Recovery," which was a lot of fun.

I also remember Mike telling me "You become what you label yourself on your business card. If you want to be a producer or director, place producer or director on your business card. You can fabricate your professional identity just through a business card. You don't necessarily need credentials stampled on your forehead. More so experience, a portfolio, references and contacts." So the message is that you essentially can become what you envision yourself to become. You label yourself and grow into your label. Don't let society label you. So, then, on those terms, I have become a Commonsenseologist and an Ecopistemologist. Which society doesn't really know what it is, so I am still very liberal and free to define myself generalistically in a world of specialists.

After attending my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting with Mike, he also fed me chili burgers and french fries at local restaurants off the Third Street Promenade (as well as checking out the Macintosh store). He still goes after ten years of being sober because apparently AA is a massive Social Sphere, and you don't necessarily want to break the bonds of relationships. A cult to some degree, I suppose. Mike said that consuming alcohol makes him angry, and I said that consuming alcohol makes me feel vulnerable: I want to crawl into a fetal position--much like a rolly polly ball and melt in the corner of a party--if I have consumed too much (which is usually over one can of Guinness; my tolerance level is low. One day after attending my first AA meeting (I felt like Mike's and my life are like some kind of Fight Club, continued, you can get addicted to self-help groups quickly because you have an automatically attentive audience: only desperate people truly listen), I drove back to Orange County and coined the new term for AA. It's called Alternative Addictions Program. It's all about consciously identifying any "bad habits," and finding Alternative Addictions to pursue to replace these "bad habits." I told this idea to Jesse Wright, a music engineer and great friend at California Sound Studios (Orange County) and he said that was a BRILLIANT idea, and I should start a non-profit group. He had to attend the formalized AA due to some driving mishap I don't have the full details on.

So, as you can see, through this extensive timeline, Mike Dillin and I have had quite a few adventures together. We both acquired our roles in our shared photography shoots. Mike was very good director and did an all-encompassing job, but as an assistant, I was able to frame some photographs that had a unique artistic flare. I also remember excitedly coming home after these shoots and we both had our little subliminal competitive wars about "who took the cooler shots," as we were frantically comparing our photographs of the day!

We didn't need any training in school or any advanced degrees: we were learning by doing, and we were getting paid for it too. We were living a College of Creative Studies lifestyle that actually paid money. What a concept! We just needed to help and support each other out. We just needed to help and support each other. We had a feedback going and we learned a lot from each other, though I do admit Mike really helped me in equipment training--because he's got all this equipment I can barely afford myself. But through these experiences, I have come to realize the power of teamwork and mentorship, and that two people can do amazing things that one individual could not possibly do. So, my sense of desiring to be "independent" is being challenged by the existence of a superorganismic synergism with a few individuals in the world--one being Mike Dillin. I wouldn't be where I am today as an environmental media Ph.D. student if it weren't for my cousin Mike.

I first met Mike Dillin in the Fall of 2005, accidentally, a day after Thanksgiving, at my aunt-and-uncle Jean's and Chuck's house in Corona, California. During one of the first two times I met him (I think also on Christmas day), he took an amazing picture of me (which reflected my worrisomeness and seriousness at the time, I was one stressed out cookie as a grad student at UC Riverside), to which Jery Lyn printed out, framed, and gave this signature picture to my parents as a Christmas present (I think just last year). That picture is still at home in Riverside. My parents hung it up on the wall near by my father's seat at the kitchen table.

I was intrigued and curious about Mike because he had a suitcase full of camera equipment and a fancy Sony HD video camera in the back of his SAV-like silky-colored Lexus (now it's great to think I have my own semi-pro Sony DVX camera). I learned that not only he is the the nephew of Steve Dillin--the new, totally cool, super-intelligent jack-of-all-trades electrician hubby of Jery Lyn (my super artist aunt of the family who lives in Sebastopol, California), Mike is also an eclectic employee of Warner Brothers Studios. He's met folks like Jim Carrey and Clint Eastwood, etc, etc, etc. His witty, savvy streak and managerial skills came out flaring since the day we met. The presence of Mike Dillin right then and there implanted some Deep Seeds in my head--which took a few years to manifest. And I am sure will take a long time or a lifetime of pursuits to manifest of the full potential meaning of acquiring a familial relationship with Mike Dillin.

This past quarter I have met probably 200 new people, and most of them I have weeded out from my life (more so, failed to maintain relationships with)--and then after getting exposed to all these new humans, you come to realize and value all those few people you come to associate and spend time with, and most certainly one of them is Mike Dillin. I am sure this is perhaps crude for me to say (from the academic point of view), but I strongly feel that my cousin Mike is more intelligent and real-world practical than half or more than half (or more than 3/4ths) of all the people I meet in the academic arena, undergraduates excluded. Mike's far beyond undergrad. Perhaps he is even beyond grad school. He's in his own class, his own world. Of creative pragmatism. I bet he would win the game of Survivor on an island. I would be on his team, of course.

Despite all of Mike's cynicism and skepticism with academia--which I am close to entire agreement with--except for the very few contacts I choose to maintain on the UCSB campus--I think he is proud of me for pursuing an environmental media Ph.D. at UC Santa Barbara. Given the specifications of the programming. Lots of loose conditions at UC Santa Barbara at the moment.

This is the first time in my life I am able to mentally embrace Mike Dillin and all that he has done for me... through writing this blog. As if I had patched up an ailing, aching fragmented, part of my brain. Through carving out a rough sketch of a timeline of my own personal growth through his presence. Many short paragraphs here can essentially be transformed into epic stories on their own right, but those are for another day. I need a baseline timeline here, as if I were reconstructing some form of geologic history, he he. Yet a seeming geologic history in my own life. There are many pictures to follow the dense writing of this blog. Coming to think about it, Mike Dillin and Oscar Flores are my two most solid collaborators in media. I have failed to establish trustworthy, synergistic interactions with anyone else--even in Santa Barbara. Working mutualist synergisms are rare in life to find, achieve, maintain, and innovate. But once they are achieved, they are so beautiful to experience.

I truly took for granted Mike's presence in my life. Now he is back through New Orleans. I have re-acquired Mike, his cynically optimistic essense, his sense of place and spontaneous adventure. His mastery of a zoo called Los Angeles.

Last night I gave him a big hug, and this big hug encompassed all this--all this growth of identity--vaguely sketched and skimming the surface of this blog. It was a big, meaningful hug in my mind, and it was long overdue.

Mike is King of Spontaniety. Last night I called. I came. We hung out. We both crashed, and he had to work 3am to work on a production gig for gxd knows what film or TV show.

Mike is a fundamental building block to my multi-dimensional dualist life: science merged with art, a scientist desiring to have real world pragmatism. Mike is an Abyss of Adventure. Who knows what the future shall unfold--but all I know, it will be a very interesting ride.

Mike Dillin started a blog. I know about 5 people who started blogs this quarter, which is amazing. is his Photography Website, which is much nicer than mine. *Sigh.* is his blog. He now lives on the "other side" of the Santa Monica Pier, from his original apartment--very crammed in space. It was one of the first apartments right on the beach, closest to the Santa Monica Pier from the west. Santa Monica is still the Homeless Capital of the World, to this day. I can testify.

Key Worlds: Mike Dillin, science-art, science and society, Central Casting, photography, iqr question reality website, Santa Monica, Made of Honor, medieval dark ages, Nikon D80, Alcoholics Anonymous, Alternative Addictions, Steve Dillin, Warner Brothers Studios.

Monday, November 17, 2008

355. Cartoon and Supplemental Documents for "First Job as Objective Notetaker for Fisheries Stakeholder Meetings"

Who's Fishing Who? Cartoon Vic made as a Pleasant Start for her Notetaker Position for Fisheries Stakeholders. Vic likes to dream about other organism's perception of humans, obviously! Or "putting humans back into the ecosystem" type of jokes. I was going to venture into a BEERS bash on the Marine Science deck and I felt like that since I did not accomplish much during the week, the least I can do for Halloween is show up with a few copies of a cartoon to life people's spirits up. I gave my friend Becca a cartoon and I gave a copy of the cartoon to Kyle, my housematey, who just went 30 earth-orbits-around-the-sun on Halloween. It's called a Non-Traditional Birthday Card!
Who's Fishing Who? Gray Version. A successful experiment in "Color Framing."
In the Name of Cuteness! Kelp Forest Representation by!
Page 1 of Vic's Adjusted Resume for the Notetaker Position in the Fisheries Stakeholder Meetings during this upcoming year. PDF file below.
Page 2 of Vic's Adjusted Resume for the Notetaker Position in the Fisheries Stakeholder Meetings during this upcoming year. PDF file below.
Page 3 of Vic's Adjusted Resume for the Notetaker Position in the Fisheries Stakeholder Meetings during this upcoming year. PDF file for the Resume/Statement of Purpose. Current sketch statement of purpose was creamed by a professor who claims that psychology and the environment cannot be connected... though environmental problems are interdisciplinary. I have very mixed feelings but I have an academic community from various disciplines and departments who are supportive and very open to my ideas of fusing artistic "cognitive mapping" techniques into stakeholder analysis. I suppose support is wonderful when you have it in the masses, even though there may exist a few naysayers to everything you do:
Vic's First Attempt at a Statement of Purpose. Wrote before the first sushi meeting with Drs. Richards, Culver, and Diane Pleschner Steele (never turned in, can disregard)
Overview of the Grant Proposal to the Resources Legacy Fund Foundation, which I believe is associated with Hewlett Packard and a couple of other companies. Teamed up with California Government with resources management.
Sometimes you look at such a proposal and you think "What a great idea!" But the other thought that comes to mind is that I wished I could rewind the clock and have a conversation with Honorable Theodore Roosevelt, and ask him to swing his big stick a few more times, and parcel up and save some ocean while you're at this whole National-Parking-of-the-West business. You didn't need 1000 scientists crawling all over Yosemite like leaf cutter ants in a gopher mound just to convince the President to make this Initial Child's Visual Aesthetic as a National Park! Sometimes first impressions and visualized instinct can make good decisions. And sometimes... it won't.
The complexity of the environmental problem is ultimately determined by the number of humans who are impacted (and still alive) and the number of humans who are involved It's all a human perception and human-definition-of-problem issue. So then, you come up with a complex grant proposal to conduct this elaborate, dicy dance among dozens of hundreds of stakeholders to inform and appease and solve problems... that might take years to shift and implement change.
But what do you do? In an Era of Too Many Humans and Not Enough Space? What do you do? Enjoy the show, I suppose. And relish in your Plan B to Post-Human Earth. It's one of those moments where you wonder "What's the Point"?
Fisheries Recorder Contract with all the specks and Fine Print:
Just signed (again) and sent off through FedEx (again).

354. First Job as Objective (Non-Side-Taking) Recorder for Fisheries Stakeholder Meetings

I signed a form (err, some Memorandum of Agreement), and honestly I don't know what I am signing my life away to (I signed this form a couple of weeks ago and I received it in Return Mail! So I am going to have to FedEx this puppy ASAP!). The wording of the fisheries contract is so official. I know a guy named Wilson (who's a great writer and probably finished with law school by now) who says he always reads The Fine Print, even the Fine Print for credit card agreements. I guess that's what lawyers are trained to do: read the fine print, pick it apart, and see where there are flaws and loopholes in the logic. So, right now I am reading Fine Print once again, and all that flashes to my head are not big, scary formal words, but more so one of the most pleasant conversations I had ever had with Drs. Carrie Culver, John Richards, and Diane Pleschner-Steele, all very enthusiastic, intelligent individuals involved in fisheries more so with a foot-in-the-door-with-the-university-government-and-the-public. More outreach-type characters of the university rather than "purebred, ivory tower academics" with a potentially higher degree of isolation from Reality, whatever reality is. I don't even know whether people OUTSIDE the university even know what Reality is, let alone myself. Diane, John, Carrie, and I had a very extensive conversation a few weeks ago (which I wished could have been recorded, it was so cool!), all over a sushi lunch (I had Teriaki chicken and California rolls) at Takenoya Japanese Restaurant off of Calle Real, in Goleta, California. Even though I was sleep-deprived I think that it worked toward my benefit, because my social guard was quite down and the ability to express my views were much more fluid due to the lack of policing of my social consciousness. Diane (as well as John and Carrie) informed me about the political/governmental baseline for the upcoming fisheries stakeholder meetings. They described to some degree the characters involved in the creation of upcoming marine protected areas and their general understandings or positions of these characters. Given my existing mental database of contacts in fisheries, I asked how several marine scientists at UC Santa Barbara and in the vicinity would be involved in these fisheries stakeholder meetings. So, I have a clearer, yet still low-resolution picture of who's who, who does and thinks what, and how they will be involved. But, the higher resolution will ultimately come from my participation in the upcoming fisheries meetings.... Are there any universal truths of huma behavior, or does it boil down to the unique interactions of a series of distinctive personalities? We shall see.

During our munching on sushi (talk about consuming the organisms that we study), I provided some of my background involved in fisheries (apparently John Richards saw my rock crab film on Youtube! he had a pretty enthusiastic response!) and I described myself as desiring to be an Objective Observer and Recorder. I am not interested in taking sides of any particular group of individuals (which makes me really bad in being a competitive athlete), but I am more so interested in the conclusions and perceptions of stakeholders and how do they come to their conclusions (which may make me a more successful compromiser, problem-solver and collaborative visionary). Kind of like some form of universal "scientific method" for analyzing all forms of human thinking. The issue about stakeholder "conclusions" is that in many occasions the conclusions "differ" and I want to show that the differences are not only in word usage, but in value systems and cognitive maps. But, as a Keen Notetaker, the most important thing I do is be a friendly, optimistic presence, recording nearly all the things that are happening in these fisheries stakeholders meetings that are catered toward getting fishermen more involved in the process of creating Marine Protected Areas in southern California, fulfilling the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), initiated around 1999--pardon my vague and fuzzy memory. Diane mentioned "This process is not science. This is politics." But I find it ironic though, in my mind that I consider politics and human behavior as a form of science and I view all forms of science as heavily political--the pursuit of science is ultimately an endeavor of Collective Common Agreement. So scientific practice BY DEFAULT is political, unless you are independently funded to do your research and don't have to be at the mercy of what the rest of the world thinks.

Overall, I really bonded with Diane, John, and Carrie, and I am excited to work with a system that keeps me close to the ocean and adds something to the dinner table conversation--my father's got the vegetation and wildland fire and I've got the fisheries deal. Land and ocean. Got most of the earth's surface covered right there. The tragedy for me is that land can easily be partitioned in space and time, but the ocean is one giant soup--err, swimming pool, err-meshpot of abiotic and biotic factors and systems can't be defined so concretely. The rules of the game change pretty rapidly. Makes me feel jealous about my father's and Armand Kuris' work, where systems can be discretely defined. as Todd Huspeni stated one time in class, "One of the most defined habitats on planet Earth is a rat's gut." That was so profound. And so true.

I also mentioned that I am tickled with my pre-existing experiences with fisheries. Particularly how I encountered "environmental stereotypes" of fishermen during my in-classroom schooling at UC Santa Barbara. But then, upon pursuing a rock crab film, I encountered several interesting, witty characters who transformed my initial narrow perception of fishermen into an expansive, multi-dimensional story of a few of the last remaining professions that require very generalist, interactive knowledge of the land--much like my grandfather's generation. People working directly with the land in a tradesman/craftsman sort of way is like a dying-breed of jobs. At least in my generation. At least in California. I have probably mentioned this before, but if I ever hosted a Biologically Incorrect Comedy Night, the first people on my list would be geologists, biologists, and fishermen (and potentially ranchers).

I have known Dr. Carrie Culver for quite a while--since my undergrad days in her thorough presentation of biocontrol in sabellid worms within abalone. We had several intermittent conversations over the years and she had been very supportive of my desire to pursue science and outreach. And right now it is very exciting to work along side her.

Right now there has been quite a bit of email correspondance going on, and I wished I could keep up as much as I should, but due to the passing of my grandfather, several systems of my life have collapsed, as if my sense of self and reality were like some Collapsed Fishery (where everything tumbles down, but not just the vanishing of fish, but the alteration and collapse of lives and infrastructure and human relationships involved with this pursuit of fishing). But not all fisheries are collapsed, and some can be rebuilt, or reconstructed in such a way that can be sustained. Everyone comes out win-win-win, all with some degree of sacrifice.

With death comes rebirth. Such is the way of the phoenix. Death clears space (at a micro or macro scale), and makes it vacant for new ideas. It just takes a lot of time to rebuild yourself. And rebuild relationships. I hope that my involvement as Objective Notetaker in the upcoming series of Fisheries Stakeholders Meetings will be positive and redeeming for myself and for my understanding of humanity (well heck, Obama's got in, there's some hope already!). This is the first time I will be holding a paid job for my writing skills, and this is the first time, Post-Question-Reality, I will have an opportunity to prove myself!

So, honestly, there are beautiful, colorful faces and stories behind a very scary, formalized document entitled Memorandum of Agreement, that upon signing, formalizes an agreement as my role of Noteaker for Fisheries Information Advisory Committee Meetings. This document only exists due to the need for formality from the Massive Jungle of Bureaucracy. Bureaucracy = people and paperwork. Bureaucracy is the problem. But bureaucracy can solve the problem. And so it goes.


Some notes. Can't sue if I die--err pass. "die" is a harsh word. Passing is more graceful and eloquent. I can't sue if they pass. Two-way street. Agreement can be terminated within 30 days written notice. Contract may terminate given whatever reasons. No alteration of the contract is possible unless there is a written, formalized agreement. California Fisheries Coalition (Alliance of Communities for Sustainable Fisheries), will retain all rights to the work that I generate for this Note-taker position. Cool. Exclusive rights to reproduce or copy the work, data, mult-media reports, etcetera. Contract not official until both parties signed. Agreement of duties on the third page. Okay! Ready for the ride. "Go fall off a log!" as my dad would say!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

353. A Typical Day in Non-directional Random-Walk Philosophizing (which ends up being frustrating!)

The whole point of today was to go through Geology Lectures.
But instead of learning Geology 2, I thought about the five primary factors that fuel the existence of any system (biological, geological, engineered, human-created) (1) size (2) shape (3) composition-properties-materials (4) relationships of parts of system (oops, forgot that one) (5) motion, process, "function" (human value judgment) and (6) contingent environment that embeds the system, the system is immersed in--then you have to analyze the six components proximately and ultimately. This goes in the beginning of Ecology of Scale: how to qualitatively characterize a system. More elaborate.

Then I talked about Stakeholder War of Words, Perceptual Piecemeal, War of Conflicting Value Systems and hierarchization of value systems. Multi-dimensional issue here. And then I garble on about the Adaptive Grid Model and several other case study situations where analysis is assuming that each data point is "independent" of all other data points, wherease there is a level of inter-relatedness, giving rise to the notion of "contingency." Is evolution occurring by adaptation and superior design or more so adequate design plus luck shoot contingent environment? Environmental contingency? Then I proposed that there should be a Contingency Theory of Ecology and Evolution, and so I google it to see whether it exists, which it doesn't. Except in Dr. Sweet's mind, who has this adaptive grid model thing going. And then I found out that all developments in Continency Theory have occurred in Business Management and Organizational Theory. Which I was like holy shxt, this is the time when ecologists and evolutionary biologists need to learn from the social sciences!!! Metaphors go both ways. Social Sciences and Natural Sciences! And then I thought I need to email Dr. Osborne about this book by Gareth Morgan called Images of Organization, first created in 1986 (published 1986 I meant) by Sage Publications, which is associated with Miller-McCune I think in Ventura. I wanted to publish there actually. And then *sigh* this guy Morgan uses 8 metaphors--including biological metaphors (woohoo)--to better understand organizations of humans and how each metaphor can have its benefits and drawbacks in terms of coming out as better leaders and managers, so whatever. The business side of things. Leadership bullshxt. Blah blah. But honestly, some key words are going to save my life:

Organizational theory. Epistemology (ecopistemology), ha ha. Metaphor. Contingency Theory (time-dependence). There are more words. This is good enough. For now.

I think Dr. Brandon Larson's work (my predecessor of controversial interdiscplinary biology Ph.D. work at UCSB) involved around the construct of "competition" used in evolutionary theory and invasion biology, and for me, I am focusing on the other side of the coin, "collaboration" or "constructionism." But this time I won't go down the New Age overextrapolated Gaia theory road. More so the division of labor and contingency theory road. Lovelock and Margulis went Metaphor Overload. And me? he he he. I want to make a conceptually precise metaphor. I want to create a metaphor that will alter people's understanding of reality from the moment that they are exposed and absorb it. They will leave the room perceptually changed. That is the metaphor I need to create. I want to create a Perceptive Metaphor, and that would be... ULTIMATE.

So, I attempted to mentally geologize and instead I went on a random walk of non-directional philosophizing, which has been occurring a bit more than I would like. So, fxck oh well. Sometimes your brain doesn't go where you want it to go, so just let it be....

This is a sample of a Trance that I typically fall in and out, and has happened a little bit more than I would like this quarter. I get frustrated with my brain. I made a comment in the piece above that I can understand why Ernest Hemingway could have committed suicide. I am fundamentally battling myself and trying to maintain a mind that is chronically growing and is out of my own control--due to environmental stimulation in the university.

352. A Day of Mental Geologizing at a Kinkos

Today was the first time in a long time I had an opportunity to "jog" up Two Trees. Or perhaps an attempt to jog Two Trees, which is located in the Box Springs Mountains, bordering "enveloping" my parent's (and my) home in Riverside, California. I knew that when I would climb up to the top to reach the road, that my fundamental perception of the view of the Inland Valley of southern California, would funamentally change ever since the passing of my grandfather, Ray. But instead, I was preoccupied with taking a time series of low-resolution photographs of a fire that broke out in the wildlands, more so in the middle world between the Inland Empire, Orange County, and Los Angeles. Not only that, I encountered Dr. Martin Kennedy and Eva Ritter, who were both storming up the trail much faster than I was (man, I am out of shape!). It was actually very good to see them. I had been slacking in my runs ever since Eva and I stopped jogging together. I know that my fundamental perception of them changed. The sense of Embracing Failure, I suppose, or it is of question whether my last years since 2005 had ever been a failure after all? Through the passing of my grandfather, I am coming to embrace people, embrace all the past, and whatever Divisiveness and Sense of Failure that had encompassed in my mind is starting to disintegrate and erode into a sense of acceptance and acquisition, and aggregation, conglomeration. Free hugs for everyone. Except, we were all sweaty from jogging and that is inappropriate.

I told Martin, through my grandfather's passing, I have come to realize clearly who I am, what I value, and why I have come to know what I know, and why I have such a deep-rooted attachment to change in landscapes--and what I didn't tell Martin--why I need to know my geology, very well (which my grandfather would be pissed off if I weren't geologically or topographically oriented to my surroundings, but to imagine to attempt to learn geology without any acceptance of Continental Drift? That would have SUCKED pre 1960s. Decentralized field, eh?). Which through my associations of geology at UC Riverside, the neurons have failed to attach and connect the dots, but through the medium of Jen Bradham and Dan (two die-hard bad-xss, way-cool vertebrate paleontologists at UCSB), not only I am starting to connect the dots of all this geologic knowledge, but it is coming in a Torrential Flood of Knowledge, of blanketing the landscapes with a deep-rooted understand of time: a flooding of mapping language on landscapes, a tapestry of terrain and time wanting to burst out as if a vacant niche space had been realized and needed to be occupied in my mind. Through my attendance of labs on Wednesdays with Jen, I have been able to divorce pure geological knowledge from UC Riverside's intimate social context of geology. And I just wanted the pure thought. Spatial divorce has allowed mental divorce. Plus, my science fiction thought experiments have evolved enough such that I don't feel cornered anymore as if "geology were the last thing I was ever going to learn." Engineering is a giant, massive frontier to accomplish, and god knows when that's going to happen. Plus I don't know jack shxt about developmental biology or microbiology or mycology. Let's just say I have "rudimentary resolution of such fields" and through Armand's parasitology course, I have come to learn that the smaller you are (biologically speaking), the more rules you can invent and break and re-invent. Some form of ecological and evolutionary orgy in the Land of the Very Small, where things seem more "structured" and hold "incumbent biological rule systems" that are more rigid, for the very large. More predictable, so to speak. Almost like how human bureaucracy works. Hmmm.

I also told Martin that UCSB Bureaucracy had been treating me well so if I don't fit neatly into one department, I will have the ability to create a committee for an interdisciplinary Ph.D., which may end up my having a BA in Creative Studies and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies. Wow, what bullshxt credentials I am SOOO proud of! I think Darwin would have gotten the same credentials too, if he still lived today. Difference between Institutionalized Science versus Independent Science (leave of absence, self-funded). Scientific practice embedded and contingent upon Institutional Frameworks, which eliminates the notion of independent science. So, I try to find the scientists on campus who are largely Recluses to the system, though embedded within the Absurdity of them. Tough road to follow.

I had come to accept that I need to be close to my father--but not too close, and not too far. I need to be legitimized institutionally through acquired merit and not inherited contacts. Being at UC Riverside was a little bit too ... CLOSE. So, now I understand why my brain was not connecting the dots.

Anyhow, I tagged along with Martin and Eva all the way up to the road on top of the ridge of Two Trees. They stormed up and I peetered behind. I need some more athletic buddies than the ones I have at UC Santa Barbara. I tasted blood in my throat and I wondered whether Ray tasted blood in his throat and struggled to breathe, just as I had done for a brief intensive of five minutes, attempting to keep up with two very fit runners.


They said good bye and I was sure I raised my right hand, mentally reversing it to point downwards, as Jen Bradham had taught all the undergraduates in how to take readings of strike and dip. All measurements are relative to north (zero degrees). Perceptually, the top of the paper represents north. When you measure strike and dip, you always orient the main marking of the Brunton (horizontally aligned with the bed at hand) toward the north, and then the right-hand rule (pointig your right hand downward and your thumb outward) dictates where you take your readings. How many degrees away from the North. First you place an angle, and then you state the direction. Northwest? Southeast? North Northeast? Etcetera. And then you take the dip. The dip is the degree of incline or degree of slope that the bed is making relative to the horizontal. You can use a clinometer to measure the dip. Just align the clinometer to the slope and mark the lin where the string-and-ball align with. The first part of dip measurement is an angle, and the second part of the dip measurement is what direction is the slope facing.

For example, strike is 110' southeast, the likelihood the dip will be south west, because that is where the slope is facing. I am equating these words to a mental map, as we speak. The most important issue here is (1) all measurements are relative to the North and (2) use the right hand rule (right hand pointing downward and thumb sticking out over a horizontally leveled brunton), a once mindful attempt to measur strike and dip will become fundamentally mindless. One day! Can't wait.

I feld bad for being the last person to stick around in Structural Geology. Jen mentioned I was the only one in the class who was taking these labs seriously rather than finding easy answers and hitting the road to some other adventurous undergraduate thing to do. Jen certainly shows infectious enthusiasm for the subject matter, and I hope she is infecting a few of her students! I told her I am doing these because I didn't learn geology well enough and that I understand the full potential of these techniques--they are the baseline of knowledge for geological mapping and measuring sections out in the field. But the other students don't know that, and I am fortunate to have some sense of premonition from my mistakes of the past. I am starting to understand Dr. Bruce Tiffney's advice: if I want to learn geology, all I have to do is take Geology 2 and Geology 3, and that's it. I--as a CCS student--took it as an insult to take a "lower division course" but that is how geology is fundamentally structured: a few baseline courses for the conceptual overview, and all the other courses are about boggling down into the details. Well, now I know. Kick myself in the butt for that. How was I supposed to know?

Some form of geological attachment to Kinkos. I am sure a small fraction of materials that make up this Kinkos are derived from geological resourcs--minerals, oil (and biological resources, wood chips). That's geologists' territory (turf, whatever) (primary professions, extraction, as opposed to secondary professions, distribution, or tertiary professions, extraction of information, and quaternary (god forbid my language) professions, information distribution).

So, hopefully, I get some useful information crammed into my head today!

Friday, November 14, 2008

351. Unfinished Poem / Song "Back in the Day / On the Playground"

Back in the Day / On the Playground
Back in the day
there were two little kids
and a girl and a boy
were playing toys
in a sandbox.
Back in the day
there were two little kids
who played legoes all day
and made vast worlds
from scratch.
But then over time
there was partitioning
in all of the grounds
there were perceiving
could only play
in the box, bars, or swings
without a bat-of-an-eye
the structure of the playground
the melting of the playground
the structure of the playground.
The girl and the boy
stepped outside of the sand box
exploring the playground
of great treachery
they met the creatures
of the bars and the swings
who were stern about
guarding their territory--
But the decaying of the playground
the melting of the playground
don't you see?
don't you see?
it's all coming from the ways
of our perceiving--(bad eliminate)
We saw it from the sandbox
some sand was blown diffuse, aloft
and the signature markering
allowed us all to bring
the pieces all together
of all the playground's weather (bad, eliminate)

350. Sketch Notes from the Passing of My Grandfather, John Ray Minnich, Age 96. Part II

(I started writing this about an hour before my grandfather’s passing).

Today is a day of Loss. And through the medium of Loss, by pure accidental opportunity meeting a prepared mind, or perhaps two prepared minds meeting in somewhat random circumstance, I have gained a new Love.

As I am writing these here words, it is the last moments of my grandfather’s life. Ray is currently in an intensive-care resting home in Long Beach, California, near by Saint Mary’s Memorial Hospital. My father and sister are there right now. I would be there right now, but it would be impractical for my 5-6-hour round trip drive when I am awaiting for a 10am class tomorrow morning. I refuse to miss any of Dr. Sam Sweet’s lectures. I know Ray would be pissed off if I did, had he been healthy and well right now. My grandfather is currently drowning in his own fluids within his lungs. He engorged in his own blood and phlegm, invaded with a soup of bacteria. I suppose an ephemeral woohoo for the bacteria, but a horrid road for my grandfather. He has low blood pressure: 70/40 (though stabilized). His pulse has been 140 beats per minute since last Saturday, when they started giving him a horrendous cocktail of antibiotics. My heart goes up that high after a long jog or intense bout of tennis or badminton. My sister, Jenny, inquired me in a dire, sarcastic tone: “How would you like to chronically jog nonstop for a week?” Uhhh, no. Ray, 96 years old, perhaps had run his body into 5 or 6 bouts of 26-mile marathons, given the pumping of his heart. As of now, either he drowns in his own fluids or his heart fails from a heart attack. He is obviously struggling to breathe. Two minutes without oxygen, you’re gone. I bet the mass accumulation of specialized and generalist cells in his body are all flipping out and gasping for existence. Does the entire body shut down right away, or are there still small islands of life remaining in the body for a little while? Is there some electrical charge that blew in the brain?

Dxmmit. No Darwin Award here for being killed by a hummingbird flying into your eye or a giant saw whamming into your car window while driving on the freeway. The small things get my grandfather in the end. As if a shifting baseline of gradual decay has mounted to some form of brutal extreme event of tragic dysfunction of parts of a once synchronistic and strong whole. All I can see with the weakening form of my grandfather is a Star Trek Spaceship calling out Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, awaiting it’s inevitable collision with a planet or another ship. Or as one graduate student described the modern human-environmental condition for Planet Earth as the Titanic about to crash into a massive iceberg.

And such is the condition of my grandfather. There is no way out of death. There is no way to cheat or bypass death. There is no Plan B. But then, the Plan B of evolution is living family: my grandfather’s brothers and their families, my father, my sister, my mother (in-law), my two cousins… and their kids…. Wow, my grandfather is a “great grandfather”…. It may be the passing of my grandfather, but in the end, he fulfilled the duty and “fitness” of evolution such that he was able to pass on a rehash of his genes into the next generation, with some pretty impressive results—at the moment. I know I inherited quite a bit from him, whether genetic or environmental. A high energy budget, the value of brains—whether intelligence took form of gee-wiz fun facts or abstract problem-solving. A stubbornness and meticulousness. A sticking to fundamental principles and values… no matter what. But heck, this is an essay on its own, I will touch upon later.

Knowing Death is Knowing Life. Knowing Life is Knowing Death.
Being trained by evolutionary biologists and geologists, I suppose we have rather strange, bizarre, yet “ultimate” views of life and death. We go from individual births and deaths, to births and deaths of societies, all the way expanded to mass extinctions and adaptive radiations. Talk about scale. But again, this is another essay to talk about.

For example, how do people define the “cause of death” when it ultimately ends up being a conditional chain reaction of events in space and time?

All I can say, whatever is happening now, represents about .05% of my grandfather’s existence in his long life. My grandfather is in fetal condition during two times of his life: (1) now, age 96 (2) when he was born, 1912. That’s it. The rest of the time, he was an extremely intelligent, strong, independent-minded individual who understood the landscapes, contributed to the community, and raised a strong family.

It seems like the Last Bout of Medical Care ends up being some form of Mind-numbing Protocol of Medieval Brutality. My grandfather Ray deteriorated from the use of heavy antibiotics, not from the early stages of pneumonia. They should have just given him amoxicillin. Apparently my grandmother Marion went out in a more “painful way.” My mother claims that she was “awake” and “convulsing” the entire time. I had a flashback to my good friend Lauri’s partner Claudia (who used to work in a nursing facility), who mentioned that people don’t croak instantly, but ultimately takes days for the different organs and parts to shut down. And they’re just kinda laying there, convulsing as their form starts to shut down. My grandmother had been largely a vegetable the last year or so before her passing, so claiming that she was awake, measured by here “eyes wide open” doesn’t mean much to me. I remain quite skeptic of her “level of consciousness.” Even though Ray right now may have his eyes closed—though he opened them once yesterday to acknowledge my presence—I have a notion that Ray is much more conscious of what is going on now than what Marion went through. After seeing what I saw yesterday, I honestly think that Going Out by Car Crash seems more glamorously painless than this.

My mother also explained to me in my grandmother Kiki’s Last Bout of Medical Care, she essentially did not pass from cancer, but her form stopped functioning due to the pain induced from the forced-in feeding tube. Mama said (pardon my lack of consistency) that Kiki’s skin around her face looked like fried meat. Mama claimed that Kiki died a painful death, and that people attempted to “put make up” all over her face, but you could see the remaining facial expression telling another more gruesome story otherwise. But then again, how do we define happy or a sad facial expression. Being worn on a body that is no longer moving? Come on, Mama! That’s a value judgment. Kiki had no control of that facial expression. I’m sorry.

Hospitals are Mass Production Factories of Life and Death. Patients are part of the assembly line. Doctors and nurses don’t see you as a human. They don’t have the capacity to when they see a few hundred humans every single day. You’re a number. You’re a statistic. You’re a “next,” “next,” “next.” They mindlessly plunge oxygen tubes down your nose and shove feeding tubes in your stomach. I don’t know what My Fate shall be. It’s not a matter of “if” it’s more so “when and where and how.” The “how” part will most certainly not factor in the Mass Production Assembly Line of hospital treatment. But I have a long to-do list before that happens. The longer I live, the longer I see a value in keeping my genes in the gene pool. I might engage in an egg-donor situation. I can’t take care of kids. Dogs. Plants. Caterpillars. Nada. I can barely take care of myself. My very own mind!

It’s as if Ray’s form, skinny-stick form, a relict of my own anorexia, pale-white, as if he were some living ghost of a body of a Jew from the Holocaust. I suppose it’s a horrid analogy, for our family is not Jew-affiliated (though I have many Jewish friends), but my grandfather was a researcher for Shell Chemical during World War II, and I am sure he was indirectly involved in saving many people’s lives (at least from the Non-Nazi side).

I talked to my father on the phone today for quite a bit. I will have to call T-Mobile and ask them for a Grace Period this month due to the death of my grandfather. Besides my bxtching and griping about a challenging meeting with one of my advisors, which led to my elaborated encounters with two other very solid-minded professors… my father started making a long-to-do list in concern of “what shall happen.” He informed me that only the immediate family knows about what is going on, and apparently there was already a Game Plan in action in terms of “who will call who” as soon as the Event occurs. Uncle Dwight will inform his lineage of the family. My father will call Ray’s close friends: neighbor across the street and peanocle friends at the park. I suppose my father will also call Uncle Bob (retired Anthropologist in Norway) and Judy (in San Diego), and the other lines of the family, like Chuck’s side. Apparently two weeks ago Ray pointed out to my father (now Bub) the place where Marion was cremated, and that he should do the same with his form. I just found out today that my grandmother’s ashes were distributed into the ocean.

Wow, my grandmother is part of the chemical soup of the ocean. Maybe she’s incorporated proteins in some phytoplankton or zooplankton. Maybe some of her chemicals are now part of some shark or a Blue Whale. Marion’s diffuse components are circulating in this vast, global swimming pool. She liked the ocean much more than the mountains, though Ray and Bub would have preferred her placement under a pine tree at the Cabin of Manker Flats of Mount Baldy (same here), Ray did a private ceremony and released her ashes into the currents of the ocean breeze and water.

To resume my father’s to-do list, he made a decision to do a personal ceremony of placing my grandfather’s ashes underneath a sugar tree behind the Cabin. Uncle Ralph’s up there to, by a Ponderosa pine. I guess I’m going to have a lot of my family living up there, incorporated into Tree Biomass of the San Gabriel Mountains. Well, at least trees live for a long time. It’s a more concrete system than an ocean. Talk about some epic form of Ecological Reincarnation. Geodegradeable: it all recycles in the end. Who knows? Maybe some of my body used to be part of some T rex body a few million years ago. I suppose life recycles its chemistry parts through time. I think my dad and I want to be in part birds, but I know for sure we will both go to Visit Hxll and have an Epic Conversation with Mark Twain at a bar, over home-made beer.

I’m not even being religious. I’m being tangible about these thoughts. Kyle asked me if I were religious. I said no. Then I asked, “Are you?” Kyle said no. I said, “As a scientist, it’s best to say ‘I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual.’ That’s what Dr. Schneider from Stanford got away with saying and it was well received by an entire room of journalists at an international science conference.

The other thing that my father will do is hold a Memorial service (hopefully after all this Holiday-ing) and that he will inform the newspaper of Ray’s passing. At first Bub was hesitant, and I said, “No, it’s not right. Ray contributed a lot to the community of Long Beach. You have an obligation to inform the newspaper of his passing.”

For a moment today, I thought about the Illusion of Fame, and if I ever had a conversation with Dr. Sam Sweet, I would tell him that if I croaked right now, I bet there are only about five humans on this planet who would ever bat an eye or even alter their step from their pre-existing pathway.

Sometimes I hate being a human. As if we were some form of accidental hyper-creative byproduct of evolution, and sometimes I think it does no good for anything for me to think about my thinking—though I have a notorious tendency to do so. It can be self-defeating sometimes.

Depending on how optimistic or pessimistic people are, I think humans will remember “the last good day” rather than the last bad. Last bad days are inevitable to happen, but you can frame your mind to hierarchize your memories and recall the disproportional number of good days.

So, in strange, twisted ways, a Day of Loss has led to a Day of Found… of Love. Yes, “love.” The word that I rarely use. I witnessed Ray Bradbury speak of how his relationships of love ultimately fostered and was the foundation of his writing. “The key to writing is love,” if only they could sell that as a bumper sticker, *sigh.*

Love takes various mysterious forms, sizes and shapes and colors and textures. The Hollywood standard definition of Love for a tall female in her twenties predictably takes the form of an even taller, young, athletic, handsome male. But Love is more so a state of Reality, a Beautiful Bower of the mind that can be constructed independent from True Reality. Love is an Adventure of Magnanimous Proportions that has no creative and intellectual and physical boundaries. And given this definition that is far beyond the housing of a physical body, I do indeed state amidst the Chaos of Loss, I have found Love.

You will never know when you will find Love, but you will know you will have found it within a few minutes, within an hour—within a lengthy two hour conversation—sealed by the warmth and firmness of a handshake that embodied Trust and Growth, but so firm that it could potentially symbolize a helping hand to (Academic) Survival in times of falling. I don’t mean to sound superstitious or endorse “smoking gun reasoning” or anything, but Claudia Carbonell, an instructor at Barbizon in Los Angeles, once told me that you can tell the condition of Love by the mere first shake of a hand. All I can say is that meeting Love and a Penetration and Syncing and Aligning of Cognitive Maps of souls yesterday—this finding of connection, communication, meaning, in all spectrums—made all the worth of the pain of meeting 200 people the last three months, in which only each person would give me a piece, a fragment of the larger puzzle of my mind.

A sour meeting with one professor led to the discovery of two different professors (my grandfather Ray wants me to resume my academic life!), to which one—seemed to be the beginning of an Academic Adventure I would have never dreamt of otherwise. A mind can be another world, an epic, beautiful journey—all contained within one brain?

It’s funny to think that sometimes asking REALLY STUPID QUESTIONS can actually get you somewhere. Like, why do humans artificially select the cute fuzz-balls to conserve rather than the slime molds? Why do I have fear of velociraptors? Like, why do I need to eat? Back in the days of physical manifestation of anorexia, this stupid question was no laughing matter. Somehow in this day of age, the really stupid questions seem to have become really profound.

349. Sketch Notes from the Passing of My Grandfather, John Ray Minnich, Age 96. Part III

I went to a yoga class yesterday, with my friend Andre. The first time in two or three years. We did a relaxation period, more so a Corpse Positioning. Relaxing the body through our breathing. I cried a little bit; I couldn’t help imagining what my grandfather experienced the last 2 or 3 days. This slow drift and shutting down of biological systems is tragically beautiful, and I wonder whether this has ever been captured in a piece of music.

I am sad. It’s 4:45 pm. I am returning to this after one long day of Interference of Experiences. My memory won’t render as clear as I would desire. But then again, it’s these moments in life that need to be crystallized in Lagerstatten form, since they are fundamental tipping points in your life. A point where there is a threshold of transformation of the Phoenix, from death to rebirth. The memory switch is on. Very, very on. Highly resolved “on.”

It was 730am on November 13, 2008. I was kind of expecting a phone call. Actually, I was expecting a phone call. The sun came up from behind the houses across the street and was beaming brightly into the room. I was sweating a little bit under the sheets of my sleeping bag. I had consumed some pumpkin bread and frosting the night before. Consuming sugar and fat makes me sweat. I stared at my new neon green cell phone several times, wondering when the call would come.

Thankfully my sister called me first. Not my father. He’s pretty graceless of informing me of poor news. Like last year, he called me 930 am and kind of bitterly told me that my grandmother Marion passed. My day was shot since then.

It is too bad that I do not remember the exact phrasing of my sister’s words, but she transmitted vital and necessary (and highly descriptive) information: (1) Ray passed on Wednesday November 12, 2008, 11:55pm (2) He passed peacefully (3) Jenny and Bub were there, holding his hand to the very end (4) Jenny continued to talk to Ray saying that we all love him, though he was in acoma, I am sure he was registering information. My sister explained to me that the condition of acoma is when the somatic brain detaches from the body such as to be unconscious of pain, but the visceral brain is still operating to keep the viscera alive. Thanks to Dr. Sweet, I am dreaming about larval tunicates. Don’t ask right now. Back to the proximate subject at hand. Since Jenny and Bub arrived in the evening, his breathing rate shifted when they first arrived though he was in acoma. (5) Jenny said that my father, Bub, was in part fascinated by the process. We biologists are already in terms with the notion of the Inevitable. Stupid to deny it. Almost like a spectator event of watching a human pass. That is so tragic for me to say, but I am sorry but my family is a little geeky to find all processes of life as fascinating, and sometimes our curiosity can take over the mourning component of a grieving situation. It’s absurd, but I am not ashamed of the absurdity. (6) Essentially the passing of my grandfather proceeded much like a sequence of multi-factorial layered cartoon diagrams of skull evolution or vertebrate development by Dr. Sam Sweet: the simultaneous process of my grandfather’s lungs filling with fluids, the heart becoming weaker and failing to pump blood to the entire body (blood wasn’t reaching the perimeters), hearts skipping beats, from continued struggled, labored breathing to blips in breathing (few second pauses), to shallow breathing, to longer and longer intervals between shallow breaths. To a stop. Lungs. Heart. Pulse. Gone. Ship sank. Engine designed by evolution stopped. Shxt. Ray. Dxmmit. (7) My father told Ray to “Have a good journey. Go see Marion. Go join Ralph and Otto and Dora.” Otto and Dora were Ray’s parents. They died tragically, rather early in life, so I remember. Both of their passings were very close. I think Ray gave me an essay written by his mother, or potentially Marion’s mother. It was all about life on the farm. Late 1800s. (8). My sister lectured me on religion and stuff for a few moments, but I couldn’t help thinking how Heaven is a useful construct in the head to keep all your Memories of Passed Ones tended to in One Centalized Place, as opposed to the actual remains of the corpse. Marion’s ecologically recycled in the ocean and Ray will be feeding a sugar pine up in Mt. Baldy. Heck, I’ll buy into it. Everyone will have a different construct of what Ray and Marion and the Gang up in Heaven are doing, just as Armand Kuris challenged me to the notion that everyone constructs their own God. My father is not religious but he’s pretty efficient at dumping his pigeonholes into a Heaven Basket in his brain. He needs to move on, just like we all. I want to give him a hug right now.

Jenny just called it “the other side.” I like it. The Other Side. The Unknown? Does it necessarily have a Stamp of Religion on it, or could I just keep it Unknown?

I am absolutely devastated but strangely excited to have a first Ghost in my life that embodies the symbol of Ray. Ghosts open up doors to creativity that are far beyond the rules of Reality. And I am very intrigued to explore this, though I won’t let the concepts obsessively take over my mind. Ray is an immense symbol of universality, and it just a huge part of my life that will allow me to thrive in the dimensions of environmental media.

It’s funny, as I am writing now, I still feel like the process of passing is happening. But it's funny. "Ray is dying. He always was dying. We all are dying." I am sure that was a Fight Club Phrase.

(9). I suppose that Jenny told me other things, but I guess these are the vitals. Jenny and Bub had the last laugh as they discovered the barebone stinginess of my grandfather—all the way to his “grave”—as they had found out that Ray’s requested place of cremation was called “Affordable Cremations, Incorporated.” Shows the whole stinginess of the entire family. I told my friend, Tariel, one time, that though my parents after very different, when you peel the layers to the core, they are both very pragmatic, real-world, and very stingy. I suppose, in the end, to all our own benefit. Runs in the family, to the exponential degree. It’s Absurdity and Beautiful Tragedy at its best. This family does not place financial value on emotional value such that the different of cost is a few thousand dollars for a wedding ring and a funeral. Value does not have to reflect artificially and externally in financial costs, but it is fundamentally embedded with the depths of all our mind’s hearts and how we family members treat each other.

It’s funny. I rarely write about my family in a direct sense, and now that everything has shifted since my grandfather’s passing, all details that were once desensitized backdrop now come into full light. Death makes you appreciate and build upon all that you have, rather than dwelling all the things you have not.

After my phone conversation with Jenny ended, I proceeded to call my mother and father. Bub added to some of the details as described above, and my mother discussed the symbolism of Trust and Lost Values. My mother is even frustrated interacting with people her own age. Ever since her mother Kiki passed, she felt like she lost the last major Island of Trust on this planet. And I am starting to understand how it feels. But then, it seems like this craving for trust transferred to some degree to my grandfather, Ray. Working the land and enduring through the depression, he acquired this ability to say what he means, do what he means, say what he does, and means what he does. Everything in his thought patterns are highly synchronized and precise. Whereas today? I struggle in my own Fragmented Self to keep, thoughts, emotions, intentions, and actions highly intertwined to the highest possible degree of Truth—as aided by my writing. Mama ended the phone conversation with two primary comments, which I have heard her state a few to many times before—except this time I thought needed to be documented in high precision: (1) I would rather receive trust and approval from one wise person than receive trust and approval from one million fools. (2) If you are okay with yourself, you are okay with everybody.

It’s a harsh way to start the day, but as I said, lots of things occurred that generated interference effects. Life is waiting for me to resume its course—but not exactly in the same direction. This Passing surely has altered my Perception of Reality in a great way.

The more I rewind the clock in my head, the more and more I come to realize that my venture to Long Beach on Tuesday (the night before) was probably one of the wisest decisions I ever made in my life. Though I was sad I would not be able to have a decent conversation with Ray, I would still get to be with him in his remaining blips of life. When I arrived, he opened his eyes and acknowledge my existence through the mumbling of a few words. And that was all I needed.

The governance of the human body couldn’t do it anymore. The immune system was in crash failing. But then again, Ray had been winning a battle against exterior forces for 96 years. You can’t win all the time, I guess. Becoming a functional, unified whole is not feasible forever. I guess biological systems are too high to maintain forever. Heck, modern medicine has been extending all our lives from 30 years to 100 years.

I remember spending the night at Ray’s house one time. It was a good night. He watched television as I worked in the kitchen, and we had sporadic conversations here and there. Ray should have never lived alone the last year. He should have lived with Uncle Dwight. They were only a couple of miles away anyhow.

Hi Scott--I just wanted to drop a line pardoning my lag time in filming--my grandfather passed last night and the degree of chaos in my life (from family) could not be cleanly sculpted into a piece of ceramics. I just imagine whether the aftermath of an avalanch could be displayed in a piece of clay or a carving of wood. My mind appreciates heavy metal music these days--though I was raised on classical. I hope things will calm down enough such that next week I'll be up and running again. I hope everything is well with you! Big Hug, Victoria
No one really cares, Vic. So don’t check your email. Okay???

The passing of one individual leads to the aggregation and increased closeness of all live individuals within a family. (This cathartic ritual of preparation)—no dancing to the gods—maybe my mom in her mind. Through loss, you gain things like the need to take strong foothold of clarity of thought, like closeness of family).

I have a new grandfather now. His name is Uncle Dwight. You lose something, and your mind craves to gain something else. I will be visiting him on Friday afternoon. He said “I love you” on the phone, and I said “I love you too.” I rarely use the word, but I was so touched that he used it. I am one of those people who sincerely feel that if you use the word “love” it masks the detailed nuance of human relationships. But I felt this “I love you on the phone,” which my grandfather Ray rarely stated—which I am sure he has—sealed the essence of this new relationship and hierarchization of human interactions in my life. Uncle Dwight is just a chipper, cuddly, creative, innovative, sociable, left-handed—go figure—close brother of Ray’s and it’s downright hard not to love him. I am so proud to be related to him. I tell Jerry Lyn and my cousin Mike Dillin how I am so proud to be related to the Uncle Dwight and Dillin lineage of the family. Though my cousin Mike Dillin and I share no blood and have been acquired relatives, I could say I love him and he’s probably the coolest, most intelligent, witty cousin that I’ve got! So, now I have some form of shifted hierarchal structure of the family in my mind.

Just last Thursday, my grandfather was a functioning individual, playing peanochle at the park and recuperating from the last two month’s of ordeals—sickness induced from hospital conditions rather than a minor muscle pull in his back—but then it all went downhill so fast, in one week.

Ray had faded, just as my thoughts in this journal are fading and becoming more and more choppy. Then intermittent in mental breaths and heartbeats... now to a momentary... halt.

But at least this "halt" is not forever.