Thursday, April 30, 2009

419. Victoria's Ontogeny of Art (While Simultaneously Creating a Portfolio)

8. [Undercover] Stokastika's Brief Ontogeny of MultiMedia Art. I usually tell people a "formula story" in terms of my untrained relationship with art: my parents never encouraged me too much. They were largely "oh, that's nice" type of parents whenever I engaged in an artistic endeavor. Instead, they were encouraging with science and dictatorial with tennis (my mom was the dictator, that is). My early educational system provided few opportunities to express myself in art, but whenever I had a chance, I created beautiful things, from drawings to cartoons to maps to posters to little rugs and mattresses to canvas paintings to origami and low budget sculptures. I remember hanging out with the best artists in class (like Agatka Chrobak and Myrbon Garcia), and we would essentially teach each other artistic styles and tricks that our authoritative teachers didn't have the will or capacity to teach us. I remember spending an entire year trying to draw the best Little Mermaid in class (and Agatka sent me one of her drawings in the mail! I was so touched!). Since I was intrinsically good at art, none of the other kids really picked on me (well, I was also one of the tallest kids in the class, so that helped too). Since the third grade, I knew I was a rebel artist (now I KNOW that I know it). At one point, a guest artist became infuriated because I did not paint the outline of a lemon-tomato-teapot complex the way how the told the class to delineate. I simply responded softly, "But that's not what I see." Then this angry teacher went behind me to my eye level, and said, "Oh!" and then she left me alone. I was a very subservient, quiet student... and this was the first indication of what would eventually become a "rebellious breakout" from the educative norm. I remember in the sixth grade, the class was partnered up and we had to draw side profiles of our partner. I actually created the most accurate drawing in the class of Alexandra Edmond, an aspiring track runner (who's sister was really famous because she was a North High School track star). I had only one art class in my life--and that was in the 8th grade. Mr. Clack really pushed me to have a career in art (and now, I can go back and say I'm doing environmental media!) By the time I reached high school, the pursuit of art was largely stifled and marginally expressed through science project poster design and designing tennis t-shirts. Art slowly emerged through my doodles during classes and guest lectures in undergraduate and graduate school. And then, I recently met Katrien--an astrophysicist who is also an artist--and she said that it's probably a very good thing that I never received a formal education in art. Just be intuitive and do your own thing!

I'm sure more memories of my relationship with art will sneak up on me!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

418. Essay "The Devaluation of Reality" (Economic Discounting) Inspired by Conversation with My Housemate Kyle (First Fan Letter to Malcolm Gladwell!)

Slideshow of Supplemental Imagery Affiliated with the essay "Devaluation of Reality."

From Supplemental Imagery with Essay "Devaluation of Reality: Thoughts on Discounting in Economics..."

PDF of the Fan Letter can be accessed below:

From Supplemental Imagery with Essay "Devaluation of Reality: Thoughts on Discounting in Economics..."

PDF of the FULL Devaluation of Reality can be accessed below:
I am so braindead from working on this essay that I have nothing else to say, except that I am re-immersing in the context of the Santa Barbara Kinkos, with two very annoying kids right behind me pressing computer buttons and making beeping noises that are a little more annoying than a swarm of juvenile sqwacking (misp.) seagulls.

Notes, Conversation with Bub: The value of the dollar also this SYMBOLIC value of a currency arbitrary and in flux. Relative value of the resource may be the same, but not necessarily the currency. People do not value the future. Inflation means devaluation of the dollar. Galloping inflation (money is less important, demand for a raise, unions, strike). Inflationary spiral. Love, sex, death. Work, groceries, sex, watching movies. Economy of scale--mass production decreases price. Local--experiential doesn't necessarily mean valuable. Value--arbitrary fixation--on rocks or diamond rings. Tipping Point = Beer. I need to have everything now, even though I already have everything I need. People want certainty even though the world is uncertain--room for religion. Couple of word errors. Oops!

**Supplemental Imagery with Essay "Devaluation of Reality: Thoughts on Discounting in Economics..." Individual Spatial-Temporal Thinking. Drawn with my right hand (I am left-handed!) in Photoshop!
**Definition of Proximal and Ultimate Spacetime.
**Devaluation of systems with increased spacetime from frame of reference. Linear? Exponential?
**Thresholds of resource/information accessibility and resource/information hypersaturation--with a window of optimality (sanity and degree of manageability) in the middle.
**Eusocial Ecological Niche Space. Why do professors only have 5 grad students, not 500?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

417. Dying an Orange Death (Flash Fiction) Inventing New Rules to Hollywood Formula Storytelling (Poem / Song)

Song: Dying an Orange Death

I am dying an orange death,
Crawling for my one last breath,

Cupped by a splotch of petals--
Held by a web of nettles--

Of novel land's Absurd,
An Alien Absurd.

I am dying an orange death,
Parameter-izing a purple sketch

Within a leaf-like letter
Trekked for a semblanced-shelter--

How-could I be so lured?
Easily tripped, allured?

What's the point?--I'm
Dying an orange death.
Dislocate to
An Alien of lands.

What is the chance
To hold foot again?
What is the chance
Of rebirth again?

Role the dice
And Life's Life
Is slim--
For I'm dying
An orange death.

Dying an Orange Death is a flash fiction story about Absurdity. I feel that Hollywood is very limited in it's storyline gimicks and that there are certain protocols not explored. For example, some existentialist koan type of material that I happened to experience in my own life. A few days ago I rescued an eccentric-looking caterpillar from being smooshed by a car while it was rapidly crawling across the parking lot (with no shrub or tree refuge in site of its course of action). Since I had never seen such a caterpillar before, I picked it up (along with a leaf) and took a moment from my self-absorbed life to take a few pictures of it within the shade of my car. Before I even had the chance to return this little fiesty bugger to a nearby bush, that creature started to frantically crawl around my arm and at the right place and right time, it fell within the crevice abyss within my parking break, in between the two front seats. Then I spent about five minutes trying to find the thing within the dark caves of my own metal motile contraption. I abandoned my efforts in helplessness. I was so aggravated by my efforts on trying to save this little creature, and now it's going to shrivel in my own hands, within the jungle of my own car! Soon enough, I had to dart into the Kinkos, work for a couple of hours, and then hit the road to Riverside, to which I came in to my parents' house late that night--too delirious to worry about a caterpillar. The next morning, as I proceeded to clean out the clutter from the vaulted interiors, I happened to elatedly stumble upon this frazzled little caterpillar--now worn out and beaten up, losing some of its hairs and feelers--curled up all shy and potentially tired from marching up to a peak of obviousness: the tip of the white lid of an old Starbucks coffee cup. At first I thought the creature was dead because it was very still. Then I poked it with a finger and it started to move! I then told my father about the trek of this absurd little caterpillar and he suggested that I transplant this thing into his California wildflower garden. I ended up placing this caterpillar in the cup of a barely opening poppy flower (late in bloom this year), and my father came to see the now scraggly, transplanted caterpillar, as he commented how it will be "dying an orange death." I exclaimed, "Gee, how poetic! I will write that down." He noted it was a bit repetitious--dying and death, and I said *whatever.* My father and I returned to the supposedly caterpillar-filled poppy flower a few minutes later (after I wrote down a few words), and then the caterpillar mysteriously vanished. We thought all the possibilities. Maybe it crawled out and started to explore the jungle of flower/weed fields underneath the poppy. Maybe it was grabbed by a hungry bird. Nevertheless, it was gone, and though all of it was quite dramatic, it was very anticlimactic in the end. I walked away from this little absurd adventure, asking "What's the point?" (I just told this story to Jules and he liked it a lot! I told him that Hollywood has a formula. I hate being stuck in a formula, and I wanted to invent new rules to the game. So I did. I created a story full of drama, but you leave feeling unsatisfied--like you work so hard to do something good, and in the end there is no resolution and no satisfaction. There was no point after all. The message is so stoic, so existentialist--I love it!

"Dying an Orange Death" is a Flash Fiction Story (Memoir) and Poem about How I tried to rescue a caterpillar from its death in a parking lot, and in end, it self-induced its own death under my care... potentially within my car... and within the wildflower garden of my father. The goal of the story is to leave one wondering, "I try so hard to do something so magnificently minutely good... and in the end... what's the point? Nothing comes of it." I think this is the first Koan I ever experienced in my life!

Dying an Orange Death. Flash Fiction Story (Koan) about saving a mysterious caterpillar from a certain parking lot death, leading to two encounters of uncertain death... and an unresolved future.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

416. Haunting Poem "Transitions Under Knowledge Acquisition": So Much for Objectivity of Science! (Intersubjectivity)

Transitions Under Knowledge Acquisition
By Victoria "Stokastika" (c) 2004-2005
The more you know
What's Real from Fake--
The more you know,
Your emotions decay.
The more you know,
In rationale you partake,
And you care so much more
About what's at stake.
The more you know
What's Real from Fake--
The more you know,
Better decisions you make.
The more you know,
The more you create,
And you care so much more
About what's at stake.
With Plasticky Knowledge
To Improvise,
Adapt to Unexpected
And come out---

As my head thinks it is still swaying back and forth on a boat, my mind continues to revisit a poem entitled "Transitions Under Knowledge Acquisition," which documents an angle of intersubjectivity (lack of objectivity) of science: knowledge acquisition of a subject or object is usually coupled with deep emotional attachment, hence biasing what we as scientists know and how we make decisions.

Lack of knowledge --> apathy --> lack of care --> lack of action or innovation or management

Knowledge acquisition --> emotional attachment --> care --> action / innovation / management

I originally wrote the poem above a couple of weeks after watching "The Day After Tomorrow," a climate change Hollywood flick that was a little bit ahead of the times... Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth came out about a year later. I was about to watch the film with Seth and other cool UC Riverside Earth Scientists, but it turned out that they went without me, and I went with a friend--but I don't remember exactly who. I vividly remember driving from Riverside to the Moreno Valley Walmart off Day Street, and this poem came pouring out of my head! My father was forced to watch the film on his Birthday with all the other geologists up in the White-Inyo Mountains either in September of 2008 or 2007. He was disgusted by the science of the film, simply because it was "science fiction too intertwined with science" that it would be too difficult to pick apart for the generic public, but I think he enjoyed the notion that the star of the show was a paleoclimatologist--somewhat like himself--and that sometimes esoteric, abstract knowledge from the university can have political implications and can actually serve in the equation of natural selection and survival of the fittest: the few people who knew how the storm operated survived while all the other ignorant humans croaked like ants sprayed with windex. The film clearly portrayed the role of science in society, from esotericism to pragmatism to political decision-making... all the way to survival of one or a few individual lives. I felt that the underlying mechanisms of science were stripped down to its barebone nakedness.

Soon after writing the poem, I incorporated the piece into my Question Reality manuscript ( But it keeps coming back to haunt... so I better blog it as well.

I suppose I am now preaching to the choir.... At the last AAAS meeting in Chicago, Al Gore provided a mandate that scientists must get involved in politics, meaning that scientists must take responsibility for what they know. Ahem and amen. Not Al Gore Style politics, but something of the like....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

415. Ten Poems that Question Reality (Within Biologically Incorrect / Stokastika Summary Documents)

Ten Short Poems That Question Reality. Page 1.

Ten Short Poems That Question Reality. Page 2.

Ten Short Poems That Question Reality. Page 3.

To view the whole document, please view the PDF below:

I compiled this collection of poetry during winter quarter of 2009, while I was simultaneously taking my first official poetry class with Dr. Barry Spacks and preparing to go to the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Meeting (this year in Chicago). I constructed this document as a "sample-capture" representative summary statement of who I am and what my blog is all about, but it ended up that I needed to turn in a three-page sampler to Barry's course toward the end of the quarter... and since I did not have any time to work on other poems, I ended up turning in this summary to the class.
Everyone took turns to read other students' poems throughout the class for about three class sessions. It was a lot of fun, though sometimes the readings were tedious to listen to because they were previously workshopped poems, and they had not altered much. Not many students read my poems in the beginning of the session, and then towards the end they started to read my work... as last resort. *Sigh.* Perhaps not necessarily that my poems are "bad" but they are more so "concept" poems--poems with big ideas exploring the interface of "science and art"--that they have not wrapped their heads around (as students are young and are still dealing with their first or second bgfriend relationship crisis and perhaps their decision-making abilities may not span much farther than which class to take next quarter... one from column A and two from column B... these may be students in general... not necessarily these writers in Barry's course). There were three students in the class who were more existentialist-surrealist-philosophically-oriented (and surprisingly all three of them were guys) and they finally tackled my poems. They did a superb job! On the last day, Barry Spacks announced to the class, "We have to catch up with Victoria's poetry!" followed by an an extraordinary reading of "Purpose or a Process;" his re-enactment of my melodramatic mind was doubly haunting than how I perceive my own mental ecosystem, and there was a chilling seriousness to the reading, as if Barry understood what I have gone through. I left feeling disturbed by someone else's reading of my poem. It made me feel emotionally restless and psychologically dissatisfied--I wanted more, but in my own time. The poetry reading felt like a psychological thriller: you have to be in the mood to enjoy it, or be absorbed in it. But if you push all the buttons with the right combinations, like The Matrix movie, then you can easily be in the mood to soak in dense material.
Barry's reading of my Purpose or a Process poem was one of the extraordinary, un-expected highlights of Winter Quarter of 2009. Such a tiny thing--one minute of appreciation of my work by a great poet--can add up to mean everything. It's funny how reality works--the level of warpedness in value and meaning in stretches of time.
I also find it funny how in my poetry I decided to be melodramatic and soap opera-ish about big-picture ideas, not my nails, my split ends in my hair, my neighbor's tattoo, nor my boyfriend's fetish with the girl across the street. I'm over it... or maybe I just never got into it.

414. Inspired by Jill Sattler Atmospheric Photography / Advice on a Website Copyright Statement

A PDF of the above copyright statement can be found here:

I have come to a point in space and time in which I feel that the quality of my work has improved to a point of professionalism, and though I am not officially employed anywhere (e.g. a newspaper outlet), I myself have come to realize I cannot build any further if I do not come to grips with my past: what exactly are the nuts and bolts and lego blocks I built upon to reach a state of professional quality and unique style. No one can build anything solid on rubble. I gotta be a phoenix rising from the ashes, eh?

Instead of the past continuing to haunt me as a swirl demons refusing to rest, I decided to come to terms, to grips with it. The demons never go away.... The issue is that this massive pile of rubble consists of tiny, little demons that need to be reflected upon and sorted out. For example, an idea called "Jill Sattler."

A few months ago, I was fortunate to meet a very artistic, knowledgeable, well-established, enthusiastic, spunky woman by the name of Jill Sattler. I happened to sit right next to her at a Starbucks at the corner of State Street and Victoria in downtown Santa Barbara (to which I found out retroactively that she religiously goes to Starbucks on Sunday nights) and we ended up sharing our art portfolios and ideas about art and science for a couple of hours! So much for getting any work done. I had been very inspired by her body of work I would call "Atmospheric Photography," and I am now attempting to understand what this term means in my own photographic work. Sure, of course, there is the atmospheric (cloudy / landscape / broad horizons) component to my work, but it's also about constructing an integrated experience of the photographer and all elements of the photograph. All components of the photograph are in place--for example, if one person takes a picture of a person in a certain type of environment, that person blends in with the backdrop such that the individual becomes an integrated part of the landscape and the photograph as whole. I think Jill Sattler's approach to art very much embody "environmental media," but then again... doesn't everything in the universe embody "environmental media"? It's all how you define "environment." Oya!

Jill Sattler's website is at While we pareused through the virtual-internet representation of her self, we encountered a copyright statement. Professor Sattler provided quite a bit of advice on how to design a copyright statement; she actually received advice from a lawyer. I basically mimicked the copyright statement used by Dr. Sattler even though it sounds so harsh and my work isn't exactly valued economically by society (and I am okay with that)!

It's funny how so many times I had discussions with individuals about copyright statements and protection, and for some reason, after listening to Jill Sattler, everything became clear in what needed to be done. She was the last straw that convinced me to construct a copyright statement.

One little demon laid down. And one tiny idea off my to-do list. A million more ideas to go, eh? Ya....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

413. Biologically Incorrect Banner Formation (Back in February of 2009)


It was the "sacred week" before the AAAS science conference in February of 2009. The metabolism of my mind was at about 120 miles per hour [It was tripping all over itself in the fourth dimension of biological speed]. It was one of those moments where I felt like I had five days left to live and was wondering how to spend it. Instead of directly working on research, I decided to vamp up the veneer of my blog and first-encounter-human- social-transaction component of conferences. First on the list was reconstructing my once hideous Blogger-devised "Biologically Incorrect Banner--" which was white, arial font overlaid with a cropped pale-yellow sunflower image... to what is now... below [ABOVE]. It took me six hours to make this collaged banner, and I remember staying up very late, crashing at my office at Bren to engage in this project. My reward was to take time to show the banner to Larry Zims, UCSB's Media Arts Technology (MAT) biologist-website design guru at a random Java Jones late-night chat. [He seemed impressed--his first comment was that creating the banner must have taken a LONG time! He would be the one to know... and appreciate!]

Thursday, April 16, 2009

411. Reflections in Palm Springs Desert Before the Shxt Hits the Fan: A Morning of Graphic Design of Geologic Failure

BELOW IS THE PRINTFECTION TSHIRT LINK FOR "Ignorance is of momentary bliss, but can construct a nearly continuous living hxll of a mental prison."

BELOW IS THE PRINTFECTION TSHIRT LINK FOR "Mental Entropy Revisited: A Conscious Escape of the Box"

Caption on Picasaweb:
In the morning of April 13, 2009, I woke up amongst the truckers at the Desert Center, 30 miles away from Indio / Palm Springs. I witnessed a hazy-pink sunrise upon the San Jacinto Mountains. My mind was clear but experienced restlessness upon facing the California Arena of Failure where I had shxt so much I could no longer consume. Before digging further into my pile of unsorted mental experiences of the last 4 years--more like 4 billion years--I came to a Starbucks and had a morning of linear reflections and engaged in artwork I had been meaning to engage upon for ages. (1) Ignorance can be of momentary bliss, but can construct a nearly continuous living hxll of a mental prison (2) Mental Entropy Revisited: A Conscious Escape of the Box. Since I was bathed in the grandeur of geologic features of Palm Springs, I could not help upon reminiscing my failed experiences in Earth Sciences at UC Riverside, and desired to capture and summarize how I felt--in a photograph and a few images.

Photographic Captions:
My sister Jenny's favorite quote: "Ignorance can be of momentary bliss, but can construct a nearly continuous living hxll of a mental prison." I wrote this quote during the year of 2005-2006 when I was mentally and bureaucratically stuck at UC Riverside, and suffered traumatically for my circumstance. I used the "liquify" button in Photoshop to add eery diversity to my self-constructed font repertoire.

Mental Entropy Revisited: A Conscious Escape Outside the Box. I wrote this quote during the year of 2005-2006 when I was mentally and bureaucratically stuck at UC Riverside, and suffered traumatically for my circumstance. [adding median function in photoshop]

Trapped Outdoors, Stuck in the Head. Anza Borrego National Park with Martin Kennedy's Sedimentology Course. This is not the most "aesthetic" of images but the most symbolic of my year long panic attack mode when enrolled at UC Riverside. (How can one be trapped outdoors when one is outside, not inside, stuck in a lab?)

My sister Jenny's favorite quote that I of all people actually said: "Ignorance is of momentary bliss, but can construct a nearly continuous living hxll of a mental prison."
The College of Creative Studies at UC Santa Barbara is a very dangerous place.
Once your mind delves into and seeks order (essentially self-regulation) in a world of no borders or boundaries... there is no going back. You will fight for the rest of your life for intellectual freedom. You can never fit in a box ever again. Trying to co-exist with the rest of society is close to impossible.

How does it feel when you are stuck--and you don't know that you are stuck?
You are okay. You may be calm. You wouldn't know any better. You are out of context.
How does it feel when you are stuck--and you KNOW what you are stuck?
That you are ultimately stuck in your head?
This is where existing become very, very painful and very psychologically tumultous.
I would be the one to know.
To be stuck and to KNOW to be stuck.
There is something inside you--a well of demons of sorts--and you are not exactly sure how to get them out, sort them out, express them, place them... from the world inside... to the world out there... channeling energy... to the right people... the right places. A tumor is trapped inside you and is eating you alive.
I would be the one to know.

How does it feel to be stuck, and to know that you are stuck... and to be surrounded by people who love and care about you (and knew you since you were five years old), but do not understand at all what you are going through?
They didn't know the chaos that was sifting frantically through your head?
Frightening, I'd say. Very much so.

How does it feel to be outside--in the vast outdoors--and yet be stuck in your head? Feel trapped in the endlessness of the Anza Borrego desert? You weren't even a lab rat, stuck running gels for 5 years to get your Ph.D.
Why was I stuck? Because, I can't just look at rocks. Rocks are just a part of the puzzle. A big part, but not the whole puzzle. Because I couldn't move on to the next step--the synergism of science and art.

The energy is bottled, contained, and ready to explode.
How could someone exist in such a frightening mental condition for two years in a row, from fall 2005 to fall 2007?
And only get two gray hairs?
I would be the one two know.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

412. The John Brockman Theory of Getting a Book Published

The John Brockman Theory of Getting a Book Published:

(1) Establish a multi-media platform (built-in audience either acquired through your own hard work or cheating by being on the Colbert Show or Oprah Winfrey Show).

(2) Be a pain in the xss. Be pushy and persistent. Never go away. Show your face and then they'll eventually feel obligated to give you a chance.

(3) Lastly, and most importantly at the core, "Pretend to be Great." And if you are great, then don't pretend. Just be yourself. Be great. (As Lady Gaga said, live a lie, until it becomes the truth).

And then, you won't be hunting for agents, the agents will be hunting down you. Given the economy right now, writing books doesn't make money. It's not the business to be in. You chose the wrong business to be in (but it's not about money! It's about communicating something down to the roots!) It has to be far beyond writing books. We no longer have the luxury to start people's careers off as a writer anymore; there is no possibility to take in newbies unless they have a worldwide built-in audience already. It's just reality.

I suppose the "above" could be a poem. Of all things, I was able to scratch off an ancient line on the to-do list (back in fall of 2005, over three years old, I suppose). Instead of going all the way to New York, New York came all the way to me--or close to me--Arizona at least. It had always been a dream to meet the great science literary agent, John Brockman, and his son Max (also a literary agent) as a Cherry on Top, but I am elated to say that I met both of them amidst the desert cacti of Scottsdale, conversed with them somewhat briefly, shook their hands, looked at Brockman, Sr. square in the face--he had this skeptical, entrepreneurial look in his eyes, as if he were at the Edge of the unknown, a rustic pioneer--but in this case, in the world of book publishing--New York. In the world of making science... popular... making scientists... household names. And he is one of the ultimate gateways that make such an endeavor feasible. The ability to make the Brockmans far beyond static pixels on a computer screen--real, living, breathing creatures, humans, even kind, gentle humans who didn't shoo me off and look down upon me as if I were a waste of time--which is what I feared tremendously what would happen (maybe being in Arizona--far away from the usual working grounds--helped). Ever since I met--errr, encountered--Dr. Jared Diamond (twice), I made an erroneous assumption that all famous scientists were overall "jerks" (he LITERALLY flicked me off like a booger insect smooshed in the line of sight of Dr. Diamond's window of life; I felt ugly, I felt like a failure) who had no time to speak to Nonames as myself (due to the fact they are always bombarded by so many people). And this entire Origins Symposium proved to me that Dr. Diamond was more so the exception than the rule.

In essence, I caught up with a to-do list item, and felt a leap of progress in my own life. I had come to Brockman's conclusions in my own terms, but it was just great--more than great--phenomenal--to hear my own personally-discovered conclusions come from the horse's mouth. If I met Mr. Brockman back in 2005, I would have not understood what he said to me a week ago. But then again, back in 2005--under the Bush regime--the political and economic and media distribution climate was VERY, VERY different--and Mr. Brockman probably would have not told me what he said to me a week ago.

I don't mean to make this sound like I was touched by an angel, because I was not. But I was inspired, and I was fundamentally, basally, motivated by Brockman's words. Now, whenever my confidence falters, I tell myself, I speak to myself, "Victoria, you are great. Victoria, you are great. You don't need to pretend. You are great, whatever that means." It doesn't matter what it means--it just perks up my confidence. My being a female (with built-in programs), my confidence tends to waffle much more than I like it to.

After meeting the Brockman Duo, somehow I felt certified by something. I met in the flesh the highest of ranks, the highest of all possible endeavors, and through this, I somehow established a clear vision. Go for the best--play the video game of society's shifting, illusory dominance hierarchies--gamble and play the game of luck opportunity meeting a prepared mind--because there is nothing else to do than become what you are supposed to be come, and find the context of people and places that will allow you to become what you are supposed to become.


The more and more I am involved in the science journalism and popular science crowd, the more and more I am realizing there are TWO distinctive flavors of popular science. One flavor is called POTPOURRI SCIENCE. More like GEE-WIZZ science, or science that is BASIC, ABSTRACT, that might be educational in terms of distant questions (where we come from, our origins) or challenging our beliefs (science versus religion, brain scans documenting thought processes of the existence of god), and may verge to the fringes of practicality (new, close-to-market-ready technologies as well as science-medicine-health). POTPOURRI SCIENCE is 50% cool, gee-wiz fun facts that help us enhance our storytelling abilities at the next corporate cocktail party, and 50% pragmatic, or ethics-challenging, usually at the interface of science-religion, technology, and human health. I think this is where the Brockman Duo are mostly involved. BUT THEN THERE'S ANOTHER FORM OF SCIENCE JOURNALISM THAT I WOULD CALL IMPLICATIONS FOR ENTIRE SOCIETAL-POLITICAL OVERHAUL--and this is when you combine science, technology, human health, and environmental health. Then, it seems like in this realm of "environment" there are entirely separate magazines and publishing houses that handle these issues. Scientific America even started an Earth 3.0 sustainability magazine, separate from the rest of Gee-Wiz science. The worst part is that Environmentalism comes in all sorts of flavors (spectrum-Hollywood-Environment)--from the science side (who have ethical issues in terms of the role of science and society) (pragmatic scientists involved in data collecting and practical management, ranging to obscure, off-the-wall physicists who burned out from their careers and decided to meditate about environmental problems, but are not in tune with biology whatsoever) to the non-profit organization side, in which science can be misinterpreted, science and religion can mesh together (all that new-age-spiritual-bullshxt), and emotions can run amuck in decision-making (those dxmn enviroettes! rational versus emotional tree huggers). Then there are independent fishermen, who will still be harvesting food and surviving disaster after all the cards of the economy fall).

I honestly don't blame the existence of these two flavors of journalism and popular science. Because one flavor is more "standbackish" and how-does-science-enhance-individual-lives (almost like a Martha Stewart for science), and the other flavor of science implies the direct link of science and activism, or learning something new and changing behavior. Some magazines like SEED and New Scientist and Wired do not separate Potpourri Science from Societal Overhaul Science, but other magazines--like Discover--keep it centralized on Potpourri Science.

I am surprised that I detected this trend... and now, to formalize this knowledge, I will have to collect "official statistics" and get it published in a scientific journal. BLAH!


For a while I had psychological turmoil and drama with literary agents and publishers, but now I have come to terms with this whole industry. I have come to a truce. The first truce is the marketplace of storytelling has dramatically changed and publishing companies are riding a wave to which they do not know what to expect to happen. An entire industry is undergoing a scientific experiment... so I feel for them, because my life is that way too. The second truce is I saw the behind-the-scenes operations of a dependent publishing company (which held a partnership with a major New York publishing house) and what I saw was equivalent to the antiglamorous textbook morgue basement barracks of a university bookstore: a massive room full of stockpiles of books. I mean, there was nothing romantic about it at all. Maybe it would have been cooler if the actual "printing press" were there. And the last truce is a universal one. As soon as I place expectations on other people, I start to become very unhappy with myself. My null hypothesis in all aspects of my life is barbarianism: "expect nothing from nobody." But the world over time has continued to prove me wrong! My goal as an experimental social scientist in the world of publishing is to find just one or a few people who actually have made me resort to the alternate hypothesis: "expect something from somebody." Always, always, ALWAYS, expect the worst and hope for the best. And as Randy Olson said, "Don't be the Randy of the group." That optimist, that expecter of great things... Always always always... a well of pessimism with a streak of optimism.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

410. Poem / Song "I Ran and Ran and Ran / When the Answer Was Under My Nose" Theme of the Origins Conference

I ran and ran and ran
When the answer was under my nose.
I ran around the world
and then I ran back home.
~Victoria, Fall 2005
(in state of panic attack, attempting to publish her first lengthy Question Reality manuscript)

Caption on Picasaweb:
I made this poem "I Ran and Ran and Ran / When the Answer Was Under My Nose / I Ran Around the World / And Then I Ran Back Home" during a very stressful time of my life. Fall Quarter of 2005 (my first quarter in the Earth Sciences Department at UC Riverside), when I was experiencing several panic attacks and a long bout of depression. I was learning very fast the process of publishing was non-merit based. Setting aside my past track record pills of bitter failure, it ends out this poem had been a prevailing theme of the Origins Symposium (April 3-6, 2009), and an overarching theme in all of science--sometimes solutions are under our nose and we can't perceive them, and while everyone is spinning their wheels, some clever dude or chic is perceptive enough to tweak definitions and discover the obvious. This occurred particularly in the themes of "origins of life," which was largely spearheaded by Paul Davies, and the "origins of eusocial systems, with emphasis of eusocial insects."

Caption for Images on Picasaweb:
A Major Theme of the Origins Conference. Not seeing the obvious, then discovering it. Origins of galaxies, planetary systems, life, eusocial systems, and consciousness. I ran and ran and ran / when the answer was under my nose / I ran around the world / and then I ran back home!

What was strange about this conference is that we as scientists and journalists were discussing the universal theme of origins and that there were very few--close to no one--who dared pinpoint exacting definitions of anything. What exactly defines a galaxy? What exactly defines a planet? What exactly defines life? A living organism? (Bruce Tiffney has the definition down pat: a sack of chemicals that interacts with its environment to survive, and it replicates itself through time, whether those chemicals be made out of carbon or iridium). Paul Davies was arguing that "we only have one set of life." We don't have another set of living systems (we're close to it, with machines!). I would argue though that humans are purposefully clumping a singular origin of life Humans defined it to be singular. You could define it as multiple origins if you wanted! How do you define consciousness? (I didn't watch all the talks, but it turns out that no one on the panel defined consciousness very clearly or very well). So on, and so forth.

I am sure I will have more commentary on this subject as I dig deeper into the notes....

409. Paving Over Une Mauvaise Memoire: Out with Failure and In with Success at the Origins Symposium! (Poem / Song)

Poem / song "Paving Over Une Mauvaise Memoire" is the first time I create a poem that was more like Franglish, the rule of the poem was to be mostly English, but have at least one French word or phrase in each line of the poem. The poem is about my experience of paving over negative memories with positive ones, that the summation of failures can equate to a success. I have learned that it is very difficult to write about failure until you have achieved a state of success. The PDF can be found here:
The poem / song "Anorexic Ocean / Bulimic Human" is the first poem where I clearly compare and overlay the processes of psychological (mental disorder) with environ-mental disorder. THIS POEM WILL GO IN THE NEXT EDIT/REVISION OF CHESS. The PDF can be found here:

Main Caption:
Before one can build a positive story of downright success, one must "get over the failures." My first embarrassing experience in Phoenix, Arizona was affiliated with American Idol (July 2008), which represented the most vile and base standards and ethics of human society. I dare not affiliate with such a venture any longer. And now, upon my return to Phoenix, more specifically, Tempe, Arizona, as a volunteer for the first ever Origins Symposium (world's largest popular science conference, spearheaded by Lawrence Krauss), I am ready to dismiss this past illusion of failure and surround myself with a positive sphere of utmost success. I have been productive with processing old photographs representative of my Highway 10 car drive from California to Arizona and back (from the last trip as well as this trip), as well as devising two poems I am very excited about--with the themes of connecting psychology and the environment, as well as paving over negative memories with positive ones.

Some Picture Captions:
Caption: Negative Memories of American Idol in July of 2007 and 2008, San Diego, California, and Phoenix, Arizona. Currently getting paved over with success. American Idol is the most intellectually and morally insulting venture I have ever encountered.Many American's want to be an Idol, essentially a mass-produced clown to be draped with the mass-produces products for corporations. Why?

Caption: American Idol Production Crew and Hollywood Mafia Judges.

Caption: Wildland fire-bathed sunsets can heal wounded souls. To think that I almost made it past the first round in San Diego singing "I would if I could" self-invented song, but flopping with singing a "Blue" techno song, which is essentially unsingable. That was a decision under a state of sleep-deprivation. You have to sing other people's crxp to become an idol and sing your own crxp--which is crxp invented by industry standard ya baby ya Hollywood formula songwriters.

Caption: Sole cacti in the middle of the Arizona desert can heal wounded souls. At this point, I invented a song, Media Reality, People's Reality--discrepancy....What I also saw this year in the Origins Conference. I hold no bitterness any longer.

Caption: Distant, strange mountainous terrain (and nuclear sites?) in the middle of the Arizona desert can heal wounded souls.

Caption: Familiar mountainous territory near palm springs, coupled with towering summer thunder clouds can heal wounded souls.

Caption: Strange grasshoppers (cicadas?) chirping in massive abundance, embedded in the shade of a tree by the side of the 10 freeway can heal wounded souls. It seems like whenever you don't understand and come to hate your own species--humans--you tend to find solace in simple creatures... like grasshoppers.... They make more sense... more often than not.... As the cartoon goes, if you want a friend in Washington D.C., go get yourself a dog!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

408. Couch Surfing for the First Time Ever with Ira Everett and Gang, Tempe, Arizona

I guess I am very lucky I am starting out my Tempe, Arizona Couchsurfing experience with Ira Everett, a young business major at Arizona State University (ASU) who knows a HXLL of a lot about music, and probably knows a lot about many other facets of life as well. Ira's profile came up first on the Couchsurfing search engine--so might as well give it a shot. He and his housemates live in a massive two-story house a couple of miles south of ASU. It turns out that the owner of the house is a drummer for a cover band, and all of Ira's housemates are very musically oriented. Their living room is invaded with top-of-the-line musical equipment--making a very complete set of instrumentation--a multi-grand music studio / band room essentially. The common rooms are downstairs, and the bedrooms are on the top floor.

[BLIP = Just had a Mexican dinner at Riva's about 12 bucks for me and Ira. The least I could do is buy him a burrito!]

After picking into Ira's brain for a little while, I was able to formulate a TO-DO list of items I need to get to expand my music studio kit. I should be able to do this for $500-$1000, given that I rip off Logic Studio from Craigslist. Here are some notes:

**Sam Ash is the best possible walk-in music store. Guitar Center is second rate. Best Buy is converting one of its music sections into a small "Michaels" "music-half-done" component. It's best to buy close to everything used through Craigslist--locally.
**These are recommendations more specifically for MacBookPro (15 inch).
**First of all, to make things run smoothly, update the hardware of the Macbook Pro. Check out how much RAM it has and then upgrade it to 4 GB RAM, 2 GB by 2 GB. DDR2 SODIMM (acronym) the 5400 one. You can purchase this cheap from
**For all music studios around the world, you can only hope they have LOGIC STUDIO (2), and then you can always expect for them to have PROTOOLS (.ptls file). Logic Studio has a very user-friendly interface, made exclusively for mac computers. Protools still has problems with it, has advanced to the logic studio interace, but is compatible with PC, MAC, LINUX, etcetera. Logic Studio (pro) is around $500 new and potentially $250 for a pirated-burned version (or via torrents).
**For file backups, consider having a separate external hard drive.
**NEED A MIDI CONTROLLER--Axiom? ($75 two octabes?) The Yamaha Vic has?
**AUDIO INTERFACE--M Audio Fast Track Pro (pro versus fast track is the firewire versus usb port, usb 2.0 goes faster supposedly but firewire is a wider road), should be around $100-200, check out, the M-box is an UPPER-END interface
**"plug-ins" are essentially VIRTUAL INSTRUMENTS, Logic Studio comes built in with a series of plug-ins
**consider getting STUDIO HEAD PHONES because you need to be aware of the fine-tuned audio elements; an example is "One More Day" which sounded fine on the computer and a small radio, but when you play it on loud speakers, it sounds off...
**garage-band, built-in musical keyboard....
**the main lines of audio that people hear are vocals-lead melody, high-hat, and the snare... so that is what to consider when making decisions for audio

406. Song / Poem "Who's Gonna Know Anything Anymore?" (Origins Conference, Arizona State University, April 3-6, 2009)

Cartoon impression of Physicist / Cosmologist, Dr. Lawrence Krauss (spearheading the Origins Symposium at Arizona State University).
Cartoon impression of Physicist / Cosmologist, Dr. Lawrence Krauss (spearheading the Origins Symposium at Arizona State University).

Song / Poem Pertinent to the Origins Conference (April 3-6, 2009 at Arizona State University):
[Keeping track of all my thoughts that were racing across my head, eh? Yes... I probably thought of this poem at least 10 times throughout four days.]

Who's gonna know anything anymore?
Who's gotta know anything anymore?
I only got a hold of a piace of the puzzle.
The clowns oversee t'black clutch of my juggle. ["clutch" or "catch"]

Who's gonna know anything anymore?
Who's gotta know anything anymore?

If I don't really now, then how can I decide?
Floating on some islands with-uh wish-wash tides
Just a chop of my ears and a poke of my eyes
A surge of ignorance remains my serving guide--

To move forward.
To move forward.
To move forward.
To move forward.

I first showed this poem/song to JL and he said that he didnt understand one of the lines--I am assuming it was the 8th line--at the time, all I could think of was "abyssmal abide," which was like "what in the hxll was I thinking at the time?" I must have been in a super-duper creative rut... and/or I was just a little bit too deep in my head. The creative juices are otherwise running rampant now....

407. A Fishermen's Mind of Metaphors; Initial Thoughts

Let's just first say that I am trying to calm myself down--I am in Tempe, AZ, and it took me about three hours to figure out where I will sleep tonight. I just escaped a Motel 6 on the south side of Arizona State University and realized I will need more cost-effective means of traveling. I looked up all the WWOOFer sites near by Phoenix, Arizona... and all of the "near" sites were far away. WWOOF is an international organization in which you are enabled to work at an organic farm certain hours per day / certain amount of time, in exchange for housing and food. I first learned about WWOOF ever since I encountered "Bill's Farm" in Nipomo, California on an on-line hostel Some guy has to sit right next to me at a Kinkos. He looks like a construction worker. I don't mind his presence in general--I just mind that within an empty room, he had to take the desk space right next to me. Hopefully, desensitization kicks in. He also smells like MacDonald's sausage sandwich... but it's 4pm in the afternoon. Like I said, I hope desensitization kicks in.

Having said that, I had some "organizational" dreaming this morning, and everything seemed to come out very nicely. Potentially a stage/scripted documentary

The Metaphorical Minds of Fishermen (or a Fisherman)

**In response to Wendy T's emphasis of a need to put a "human face" on the MLPA process, in which everyone else in the process dreads. Well, they already put enough "human face" on the fish, eh? Let's put a human face on a human, eh?

**THESIS: Fishermen think in metaphors / Fishermen's Minds are Metaphorical.
**DATA COLLECTION / SPHERES: (1) fishermen's personality / philosophy of life (2) fishermen's game of fishing (toys, technology, landscapes) (3) fishermen's social network or community (intra- and inter- industry, e.g. other fishermen versus scientists, media, government)
**Fishermen are highly visually-stimulated creatures. They think and solve problems through visions and mental maps.
**Fishermen are fiercely independent creature. They are a part of the economy, but more so at the fringes. They have their own independent, self-sufficient operations. Because of that, it ends up that they know several dimensions of knowledge, from fish to fishing practices to boat technologies and repair, to community social networks (intra- and inter-, which then include people like government officials. Trying to get a bunch of fishermen to come to a meeting is like "herding cats," which is something you cannot necessarily do.
**Fishermen's jobs (like scientists) are like being on a ferris wheel (taking a break is getting off the ferris wheel); going round and round; it's all the same even though it seems different; life is everything different, but variation of the same themes; when you feel that you have no time to take off for a break, that is when you need to take a break; when you stop perceiving the details of difference for every round of similarity, that is also when you need to take a break! (Blank slate before you / the road not taken / fractal pathways / areas close)
**What if (when and where) the economy falls bad, or when the national house of cards folds into itself (house of cards / mound of stone), the fisherman will be a hero, because he knows how to paddle his rowboat and harvest some food--not many people know how to do that.
**Fishermen were the first conservationists before they were considered the first competitors / first profit mongers, as the equations of university scholars say; they know a lot about the lay of the land, and they desire to be stewards of it (overfishing, lack of keeping track, diffuseness of responsibility, otherwise overfishing is not profitable, invest 130 for gas and bait and then return with nothing, there is no point in fishing anymore...)
**The formality of university science versus informality of fishermen knowledge; more so like a "citizen scientist" or "barefoot ecologist" the value of tapping into local knowledge resources
**Fishermen make decisions out in the ocean, they are self-regulating about catch, then the government comes in and adds more "generic regulation" to a local region
**Holding the boat in their dock, the politics of boat-placement "We're like mini hot dog stands in a big baseball stadium"
**The ocean is their schooling system / their education system / the ocean teaches them lessons, as well as their community; a fisherman his buddy started fishing at age 15, they started to ditch school, and at one point in an art class, they were asked to draw a cartoon; he and his buddy drew a cartoon about them ditching school and going out fishing while the rest of the kids were suffering and rotting in school; it was the best cartoon in the class, but the art teacher became so mad that he ripped it up... so much for societal values; "educated idiot" versus "unincorporated academic"
**Fishing is like playing a game of CHESS (anything but a Nash equilibrium); you have all these shifting variables, you have to account for them (make them static in your head for a moment); and given the context of these shifting variables instantly frozen in your head, you make your move... and then you make your next move... and then you make your next move....
**Fishermen "whatever's left of the wildwest" pioneering managers and then too many people come in and put on the reigns, self-regulation shifts gradient to global regulation
**Fishermen know the balance of adaptation versus manipulation; they try to tame the ocean, but at the same time at the whims of its unpredictability (make wise decisions); fishermen in their own way, due to their level of independence, are self-actualists; they are their own scientists / their own gods; they create their own destinies, but are at the whims of the ocean...
**Fishermen come to know their neck of the woods so well... their part of the ocean... that it is almost as if their mind's can pull off this blue blanket cloak of ocean off the terrains underneath, and know the intimacy of the terrain... and of course... know where the fish are... the bathymetry becomes the mountains and the fish become birds, and you are essentially floating on the clouds, you are looking at the mountains underneath, and then you are trying to catch "birds" from above
**"A view from the boat" fishermen look at "civilization on land," watching the sirens go off, and they are wondering about the ferris wheel of civilization, and glad though they invented their own ferris wheel of sorts, that at least they stepped off the main one...
**Breeding unique, independent-thinkers requires some level of isolation... and fishermen have a lot of good thinking time on the boat (as their offices) "Welcome to my office" / "This is my little aerobic workout I do almost every day." (great overlay imagery)
**Their jobs are 6 hours of work and 6 hours of hobby; at a point you become a professional; you have mastered the system, but need to learn how to fine-tune it; self-sufficient salsa garden, fish and tortillas and salsa... great staple food of San Diego...
**Fishermen are essentially ranchers of the ocean, they set out their traps with bait, which ends up feeding the community, and then when the time is right, you have an opportunity to harvest the little bugger that became of legal size...
**Fishing / foraging / harvesting / overfishing / extraction--as if geologic minerals or pulling out a tooth; there is initial bias of value systems as expressed in word use, "extraction" is particularly negative view of fishing...
**The Ferris Wheel of Scale; a man with his boat observes a lot of blue fin tuna out in the ocean; he only catches one fish and returns to land; the man informs his buddies about the extensive distribution of blue fin tuna; one man challenges the fisherman--why not catch more fish? sell more? then get a bigger boat? then you can get a bigger house? then you can employ more people? and then you can have a boat fleet? and then you won't have to work anymore? you can go on vacation? And the fisherman was puzzled--Why do I need to run around in circles (spin my wheels) when I am already happy in my place? (notion of scale in decision-making)

**Building an empire? What's the point? That's the philosophy of the individual eusocial ecological niche space, and the fundamental notion that there is saturation or carrying capacity of individual expansion and maintenance of a system, getting bigger is not necessarily better; I also feel that this is the fundamental notion of quotas or self-regulation; just fish for what you and your family needs; don't get anymore fish....
**Fishermen and the MLPA process; some are still going to learn how to adapt to the game and still find a way to keep fishing; it seems like the MLPA process is weeding out the humans who "don't evolve;" dinosaurs went extinct because "they didn't evolve" or more so they couldn't change fast enough such as to live within the habitable framework of drastic environmental change, same with fishermen and the MLPA process
**Fishermen when they enter a dark room, they don't hold a candle in the dark (like a scientist, who has small resolution of a whole area), but they have a flashlight which diffusely illuminates their entire room
**Synergism outweighs "healthy competition" and they provide great service to local communities in terms of bringing local fresh fish out to the market and out to top quality restaurant dining... not only that... aquarium fish for educational / museum purposes...
**Fishermen are like endangered species of human being, there are not too many around (commercial, at least); if you lose fishermen, you lose a level of independence, you lose the notion of self-construction in a society of mass-production, you lose independent thinkers, ranchers, scientists of sorts (early science), you lose fishing stories, you lose a level of freedom that was once originally craved by the American society in the first place (with Manifest Destiny and all)
**Once the ocean gets into your blood, you have a very hard time getting it out; in fact it's impossible, you are completely infected!