Tuesday, May 26, 2009

433. Roadtrip Nation: Continuing the Journey of Self-Construction Over Mass-Production

Picasaweb Caption:
Yesterday Shannon Switzer and I (Vic, just look me up as "Stokastika" ha ha) went to visit Kristin Esteves, the Coordinator for Indie Roadtrips, and we had the most wonderful conversation! Shannon and I are interested in careers at the intersection of science and society, more so science-art-society in terms of linking knowledge with inspiration and human-environmental change. We want to find out "who are the people who are willing to do something different at the interface of science and society? Who are the new generation of scientists who are willing to connect the dots in any way possible to solve real-world problems, despite the modern, constricting conventions of academia?" Shannon and I are on our way to applying for an Indie Roadtrip with the guide of Kristin, and I guess a starting point is to have a picasaweb photoalbum. So far, I'm showcasing a collection of really cool Roadtrip Nation stickers... but I'm sure the photoset will keep expanding....

"Wow! This has been very inspirational!" I exclaimed to Kristin Esteves (Roadtrip Nation,
http://roadtripnation.com), and Shannon Switzer, (Aquasoul Shannon, International League of Conservation Photographers, http://aquasoulphotography.smugmug.com/), "I really wished we just filmed our conversation right now! Maybe we can do a retake!" We all laughed. Shannon and I went out of our way to meet Kristin, the manager of the Indie Roadtrip Division of Roadtrip Nations, in Costa Mesa, California, and we emerged from their cozy, non-cubicle-super-comfy production company at the edge of an obscure road (perhaps 5 miles or so from the nearest beach) filled with hope and big dreams.

Randomness can sometimes converge into coherent order.

Let's see, where to start. First of all, I heard about Roadtrip Nation indirectly, through my parents watching PBS, and I was jealous of the three dudes who went on a bus all across the country (in which I had the privilege of being introduced to one of them today, I met a celebrity!) to meet a bunch of really cool, creative, intelligent people who have ultimately constructed their own roads to life. Roadtrip Nation was a line on my computer and occupying a dimly lit neuron in the back of my head until... I encountered that big green bus in the middle of the lawn between two high-traffic bikepaths at UCSB! It was fall quarter of 2008 and I just returned to graduate school. I was fairly depressed about my situation in life--starting from scrap again after transferring through three different graduate schools, having a very rocky relationship with one of my advisors, getting trashed by a guy who has the ability to emotionally sever himself from close to anything within a few minutes, lack of new friends... the list goes on.... And here was this massive, flaming green RV bus right in front of me! Boy, was I excited and dreams started to whirl in my head. I was informed by the Roadies that Roadtrip Nation was based in Costa Mesa, California, and I tweaked my head in surprise, "Huh! You're local!" About two-point-five hours from UCSB. That was WONDERFUL!

I took two or three cards with them, and I kept dreaming about how I wanted to interview people at the interface of science and society; people's whose feet have dug deep into the realm of science, but have felt compelled to translate the stories and adventure of science into creative products, from narratives to art... such as to inspire and educate the public... as well as move a few chess pieces in the political realm. Well, back them, with a swirling brain and no one really to talk to and share ideas with... these ideas remained largely dormant inside me.

In early November of the same quarter, I was filming the strangely bizarre artwork of Scott Chatenever (engineer-gone-artist) who creates ceramic pieces that almost look like real life. Many people are often fooled as to whether it is a real coral reef or a piece of art. He had been greatly inspired by chaos theory... or the leftovers of the engineering equations... and how the chaos element of the equation ultimately has its own order. I hung out with Scott on Santa Barbara's First Thursdays Artswalk, and in the wee hours of the night I had my fill. I was walking down the street in a total slump (the day had been tremendously overwhelming), and someone calls my name. It was Scott Bull, head of UCSB's Coastal Fund and President of Santa Barbara Surfrider. Scott had this promotional art-surfing-ocean event held at a very cool jewerly shop downtown for Surfrider and he wanted me to film it. 100 bucks. I was so so... SOOO tired... but I managed to still pull it off and do it. Of all things, I was carrying my film camera with me. Talk about being at the right place, right time. It ended that Oscar Flores (my friend) edited this film and I had to pay him $100 out of my own word and I lost out in nearly all dimensions for being over-committed... except for one thing. At the very end of the Surfrider Ocean event, I met some very friendly, blond-headed girl through Scott Chatenever. Her name was Shannon. She told me that she graduated from UCSB in biology and environmental studies. Shannon was seriously involved in photography, and that she was currently interning at the Santa Barbara Independent weekly magazine. I kept her card and didn't think much of the encounter for at least a month or so... well... you can't blame me... because my grandfather passed away, and I essentially gave the finger and any other possible f*you to the whole world, as I hid and was by myself for most of the entire month. Then I happened to pick up the Santa Barbara Independent sometime in early January... and on the VERY FIRST PAGE was a picture of Shannon! Apparently she wrote a few blurbs in the magazine and had an opportunity to interview Jean-Michel Cousteau.

In the beginning of winter quarter, I called up Shannon and we eventually met... along with several social events... from birthday parties to an informal screening of Sharkwater. It was a lot of fun. I had tried to start a group that was exploring the interface of science and art, and Shannon constructed a strategic name called "Woven Atom," which visually could mean the notion of "synthesis" at any scale, except most importantly, there were absolutely no negative or cliche associations with the term, and I thought it would be a perfect name for a group. Shannon, Lydia, Becca, and I started meeting once a week or once every other week, and we had an opportunity to discuss issue at the interface of science, art, and collective change. After a quarter of realizing I was not getting my work done for my Ph.D. I came to the conclusion that starting a group right now was not a very intelligent thing to do... and so I have become more reclusive as of late. It is my fault and my failure, but I am hoping that when the time is right, a group such as this can be resurrected.

What was really cool during winter quarter is that during this time period I self-published a book of poetry called "CHESS: The Poetry of Human-Environmental Change" and that Shannon was accepted into the International League of Conservation Photographers (she happened to meet the Director of the League at a Photography show in Las Vegas, Shannon is encouraging me to join... and I AM working on improving my portfolio!).

Shannon returned to Oceanside (her hometown), and I myself have met some wonderful, inspirational fishermen through my job as an objective note-taker for the Fisheries Information Network (FIN), which is now leading me to spending quite a few weekends in the San Diego / southern California area. Shannon and I have kept in touch. We are so like-minded in our vision for our future and our level of determination to succeed, despite the distance... it would be a great loss for the both of us if we didn't maintain contact... and eventually... serious (or seriously fun) collaboration. Like right now.

At the end of March of 2009, I finally was determined to go visit in person Roadtrip Nation. I saw the website at
http://www.roadtripnation.com/, and it was very vibrant and encouraging, but there was no human flesh behind the pixels on the screen. I needed to see reality for myself. I discovered the address and phone number through Googlemaps: Roadtrip Nation. 760 Newton Way, Costa Mesa, CA, 92627, 949-764-9121. I was really excited to discover a production company that was OUTSIDE of Los Angeles (the Central Casting experience was a bit much for me). I was absolutely mortified to show up at the end of an obscure street full of sleepy businesses and perhaps even some car repair centers... only to find a segment of a building/warehouse that had this... nonprofit look. Roadtrip Nation's interior walls were coated with trendy collages and inspirational quotes, as well as an ancient massive green RV that now serves as an office, a fairly large "collective meeting space" that was filled with couches, a production room (where several computer were being used to edit films), and a hallway with a few collectively shared offices. It was as snuggly and as anti-corporate you could ever imagine! Amen, I found a College of Creative Studies (CCS) Mecca OUTSIDE of CCS. The fundamental mottos for Roadtrip Nation were "Define your own road to life." and "Self-construction over mass production." Personally, these kinds of philosophies are so compatible to my own that I could be won over through these concepts... but I still had to meet the people behind the scenes. In the first trip I met a lady at the front desk who was a bit harsh with me, but it turned out that I think she was having a bad day because the second time she met me, she was very kind and enthusiastic... and stated that she remembered me! Eventually, this team member transferred me to Luke, because I wasn't exactly sure about the programmng and exact opportunities at Roadtrip Nation. It turns out there are three main pathways: (1) applying for the PBS production of Roadtrip Nation in front of the camera (2) applying for the PBS production of Roadtrip Nation behind the camera and off-season / highschool education division (internship), and (3) applying to the Indie Roadtrip grant process, either as a film-maker or blogger/photographer. I was interviewed by Luke for the potentiality of becoming an intern, but then I told Shannon about the opportunity, and since we are both struggling to be in the realm of science, art, and society--on the same road to life, but oblivious to the opportunities out in the world after we receive our graduate degrees--we've been bubbling and oozing over the phone about how we could collaborate this summer and apply for an Indie Roadtrip.

About two weeks ago, Shannon and I attempted to speak with Kristin at Roadtrip Nation... through a random drop-by (it was a crazy day because I was stuck in bad traffic, Shannon was on three hours of sleep, and it was her last day of moving from Santa Barbara to Oceanside), but we found out that Kristin was frolicking around by her bravesoulonesome in London, engaged in her own Indie Roadtrip! At least Shannon found the place and became familiarized with the season. The second time I visited the production company, my level of comfort and familiarity started to grow... especially with the privilege of sharing my discovery with Shannon.

And finally, I sent an email to Kristin... and to my surprise, I found a very friendly, encouraging email in return (I am only saying this was a "surprise" because I have met a bunch of religious cult weirdo freak rejectionists in my short stint exploring the tar pit swallowing jungle of Hollywood). We were about to set up an appointment... and low and behold... all elements converged today with much success!

Shannon and I showed up a little after one (I was a bit antsy because I hadn't jogged yet), and Kristin was just about rappng up her relaxing lunch. Kristin has this wonderful gestalt personna about her... and in my ghost reference head... she reminds me very much of this super intelligent geology graduate student I used to hang out with at UC Riverside--Jen Sabado, around 5'7" semi-dark skin, dark staight hair a bit beyond the shoulders, trendy-glasses, soothing, laid-back voice, fit-physique, "eloquent-physically-fit-trendy-geek-type"--so that aspect of my memory vamped up with my level of comfort. We had the opportunity to sit down and chat in a collective office for about an hour... and slowly started deriving mental maps of each other. Kristin Esteves was part of the first Roadies I believe back in 2005, and ever since then, she had stumbled upon several job opportunities within Roadtrip Nation. She loves her current job so much and she said it suited her well because through she graduated from Cal State Monterey, she still didn't know what she exactly wanted to do with her life. Though Kristin committed to an interesting Teaching-English-in-Prague type of job starting October, and she wouldn't have known of this opportunity if she hadn't been working with Roadtrip Nation. Kristin also has mastered her writing abilities through this job, and she can be proud to say that she is establishing herself as a writer (Sweet! That makes three of us in a single room). Shannon's been around the world... with an outside-the-box Africa research adventure (I saw lots of gorilla pix!), much more so than myself, in which my mother being Greek has forced our "traveling experiences" to be largely endemic to this single country in Europe.... It is an eye-opening adventure on its own, but largely frustrating because there are a few dozen more countries sitting there north of Greece, waiting to be sampled!

I guess the most crucial part of the conversation came when I started mentioning my history. I graduated in CCS Biology at UCSB blah blah blah, but I transfered to three different graduate schools... from UCLA to UCR and then back to my quasi-academic-liberal-environment of UC Santa Barbara in which my non-traditional undergraduate education really made me have a hard time dealing with a world outside that is designed to compartmentalize you into a very tiny box. The world overall does not welcome "globalist, interdisciplinary" thinking, and there are very few people out there who would be willing to take you under their wing and protect you... but you otherwise have to do your own legwork.... I told Kristin and Shannon that conventional science is short of solutions in terms of meaningful and widespread impact in human-environmental change, beside the mentioning of the academic "ivory tower effect." That is why I have become interested in the research and practice (outreach) of science and society. What is exactly "science" because the conventions of science have shifted over time? What is the role of science and society? The interface of science, media, policy, and public awareness/inspiration? What is the future of science? What is the future for scientists? What are they expected to know? How are they expected to behave? Are they to remain cut off from the world, or are they to play the game of being a stakeholder in the circus/arena of multi-disciplinary problem-solving? Who are the people who are constructing/pursuing innovative programming synthesizing science and art for human-environmental change? Why can science NOT be divorced from art? How come science HAS been divorced from art? (historian of science and art, Ernst Haeckel, etcetera). Why is there a divorce between collective learning and collective behavioral change (e.g. science and policy)? How can a scientist sit in front of a computer and crunch numbers all day (sever his rational thought from emotions) to make an obvious doomsday conclusion... rather than get out of his office and attempt to do something about the problem? And just because a university scientist testifies to Congress about a certain issue, why is this called "advocacy" and this is looked down upon? Weren't cavemen doing science? If you learn something new, you change behavior, individually or collectively! You just don't sit there and watch the sky fall or the house burn amidst the overgrown pine forest! As a graduate student, when I walk out from the university, what should I be expected to know and do? What types of jobs are available to me? How will the structure of society be like? Do they even exist? What are the tools scientist need to become responsible, interactive citizens of society? How come science is in the shush shush for careers? Why does it remain an elusive profession, especially when most of the world we live in has been shaped by the pursuit of science and engineering?

Well, there you go. 20 questions. Stuff I am willing to ask. And so I have discovered that "modern conventional science" is only a PART of the recipe to human-environmental change. What else does a scientist need to know to become a complete package deal?

Kristin and Shannon seemed very intrigued by these questions that I was asking, and the final major point that I made was that when you are a young student and have a clear vision (e.g. synthesis of science, art, and society), but the existing structure of society does not have doors open to you, do not have avenues or pathways... it's a very painful experience because essentially your sensical unbounded ideas are stuck in your head. Your personal vision of the future, the very structure of your mind does not match the structure of society. A very fundamental mismatch that makes society seem like a bunch of prison walls in nearly every direction. Perhaps creating a film can lead people to start thinking about things... and maybe creating a culture of science, a culture of change through film can start breaking down the prison walls and people may be intrigued to open doors and design new opportunities. It's a dangerous road to walk, but nevertheless exciting.

We live in a world of dichotomies... rationale-emotions, science-art, science-society, humans-environment... when this world fundamentally NEEDS synthesis.... Where do we go to find people who are willing to cross conventional boundaries and connect the dots in any way possible to solve real-world problems at the human-environment interface?

I suppose those are some of the fundamental themes Shannon and I will touch upon in our film.

I was thinking in the car on my way up to Costa Mesa from San Diego... "I am eager to be a scientist and remain a scientist, but I am not willing to sacrifice my expression of emotion for the pursuit of science. Emotion needs to be a part of the equation... of course within sensible balance. And there needs to be new ways for scientists to express their concerns... their emotions...."

Beyond that, Kristin, Shannon, and I started discussing some logistics... like formatting mini DV tapes all the way to sacrificing my stationwagon--painting it green--for the benefit of the film. Kristin seemed extremely excited about our ideas and our passions, and she also seemed very impressed that we made the effort to come visit her and overlay a friendly face and community of dreamers on top of a website that does not radiate emotion the same way how human interaction does.

There are several things that Shannon and I have not figured out yet. Will we be place-driven or people-driven? Who will be the bare minimum of three people we propose to interview? What part of the summer? Late July? Early August? So many things to think about! And this blog is just the beginning... collecting my thoughts into some level of narrative-like coherence. It's all ROUGH DRAFT!

Anyhow, Shannon and I left Kristin of Roadtrip Nations with big smiles, and we two UC Santa Barbarians went buzzing a bit afterwards on what our next steps were. It's amazing to think that I found a sounding board for my brain, a collaborator! My first self-deciding collaborative film, where my film camera and crew become a cohesive, coherent extention of myself--not an appendix or tonsils, but more so my lungs, an extra pair of reflexive eyes, and most importantly... my heart.

The world looks very beautiful today, because randomness has formed some degree of order. And it was all unexpected. We keep pursuing order, one day at a time, and even more wonderfully unexpected things shall happen!

This is the best possible internship I could have ever applied for... because our own creativity is the name of the game!

**science: abstract to practical, from esoterika to pervasive
**science-art-society: a new academic culture of change--"If Science is a Culture, then where will I find it?"
**creating a shot list, defining our style before we hit the road, what will be our universal "toy" that will symbolize a connecting of dots and building blocks....
**BUMPER STICKER: Bureaucracy. A Global Disease.
**Luke mentioned the film crew structure for Roadtrip Nation is very ORGANIC--order comes naturally, take it as it comes, pursue that keeps working, scrap what doesn't work, order emerges through retrospect

**Kristin mentioned how one day of traveling is like one week of living your usual, sedentary lifestyle.
**Why are things not changing rapidly? (1) Lack of catastrophe (unwilling change) (2) Lack of will power, motivation, consciousness (willing change) (3) Lack of technical knowledge--or self-pursued know-how (e.g. waiting for Toyota to crank out hybrids versus we tinker with our extra time to convert our very cars into electric vehicles, converting a power grid to solar-power panels through our own means) (4) We are too interdependent (crutching other aspects of society to produce products rather than being independent in technological pursuits)

Potential Route:
**Painted Green Subaru Legacy as Sacrificial Lamb for the summer
**Either a west-coast route or an east-coast route
**Be people-interview driven over place-driven

**Suggestions for people to interview, a starting point:
**Godfrey Reggio and Phillip Glass (Qaatsi Trilogy)
**Michel Gondry (film director / science slant, wanted to be a scientist as a teenager)
**Werner Herzog / Errol Morris (Arizona?)
**Santa Fe Institute, President is Geoffrey West, houses scientists and writers (New Mexico)
**Mary Carrillon, Ice Stories, providing scientists with media tools and programming (Exploratorium, San Francisco)
**UC Santa Cruz Science Writing Program / Scientific Illustration Program--several recommendations, names (speak with Robert Irion)
**Tap into Shannon's Contacts with National Geographic, International League of Conservation Photographers

UCSB Locals:
**Milton Love (fisheries biologist, if science is culture, then go see Dr. Milton Love)
**Barry Spacks, poet married to a scientist, reaching into the science realm (outsider, third person)
**Affiliations with the Jean-Michel Cousteau Society, Ocean Futures, Home Planet Productions
**Michael Hanrahan, Blue Horizons, UCSB
**Dotty (scientific illustration at Kerr Hall, UCSB)

www.roadtripnation.com/apply --> Shannon/Victoria Switzer/Minnich stokastika@gmail.com wovenatom

What I wrote on my profile for Roadtrip Nation.
Though my hand-me-down name is Victoria, my self-proclaimed writing/artistic name is "Stokastika," which means seeking order from chaos. In a nutshell, I am a California native (but Half-Greek) born in a family with a lineage of scientists... but I have an instrinsic propensity to express myself and my knowledge of science through humorous narratives and multi-media ventures. I am very much interested exploring a profession integrating science, art, and inspiring/educating various audiences in the dimensions of human-environmental change. Participating in Roadtrip Nation can help me become exposed to those few people who are willing to "step outside the box" of the ivory towers and connect the dots in any way possible to address and solve real-world problems. Being a conventional scientist simply is not enough. For a brief synopsis of my relativistic identity crisis, please visit: http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/whoistokastikashort.pdf (short version) and http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/whoisvictoriastokastikaLONG.pdf (long version, it's a bit haranguing, but it shall do!). And most importantly, a resume can be viewed here: http://stokastika2.googlepages.com/vminnichroadtripnationRESUME.pdf

Why do I want to hit the road?
My great friend Shannon and I are very determined to go on an indie roadtrip because we are two "anomalous scientists" with very similar, yet non-traditional, artistic visions for our future, though we don't know where these opportunities are. Though we have survived years of education, internships, and jobs closely revolving around the sciences (biology, earth sciences, environmental sciences), we have come to realize that the conventional recipe of being a scientist in the university is falling short of solutions in terms of educating and inspiring wider audiences, as well as leading to drastic changes in the human-environmental condition, ranging from shifting collective consciousness to changing policy and management of ecosystems. Shannon and I, with our emerging skills and experiences in art, are attempting to venture out of the comfort zone of the university "ivory towers," foraging for professions at the interface of science and society. Who are those people who go out on a limb to make science accessible, fun, and available to address real-world problems? Who are those people who make science a culture of change?

Tentative Route.
I myself have a "sacrificial lamb" of a car (Subaru Legacy, 1993) that I am willing to paint green for the purpose of the trip. Shannon and I discussed the potential of coordinating a trip either up-and-down the West Coast or the East Coast, but then we decided to cater our route more along the lines of accessibility of major interviewees. Hypothetically, if Al Gore were available to be interviewed in San Francisco, then I think we would coordinate most of our adventures/interviews along the West Coast. If John Bohannon ("Gonzo Scientist") were available for an interview in Boston, then I'd think we'd cater toward an East Coast trip. Our goal is to remain realistic, affordable, and within a two week time-frame.

Primary questions I would ask the interviewee.
(1) Who are you? (2) Where you are from? (3) What is your profession? (4) What is a basic overview of what you do in your job / basic duties? / a day in the life of? (5) Do you love what you do? (6) Why do you love what you do? (7) What are the circumstances that led to your profession? (a) childhood upbringing (b) more recent experiences / job opportunities? (8) What are the major conflicts you faced throughout your life that have potentially impeded your vision--pathway? (e.g. self expectations versus family expectations versus peer pressure versus educational pressure versus societal expectations) (9) What are some of the hardest decisions and major sacrifices you had to make to pursue your dreams? (10) Did you have a vision of becoming who you are now, or was it more of an accident--chance opportunity meets a prepared mind--and you grew into the job that you worked through? In other words, did you design society's coat around you, or did society give you some one-size-fits-all-coat and you sort of grew into it? (11) What is the fundamental driver/motivation that had sustained the spark for you to get to where you are today? (12) How do you define science? The underlying human behavioral practices of science? (13) How do you define art? (14) Where do you draw the line between science and advocacy? (15) Do you feel that science is only practiced in the university? (16) How do you become a "legitimate scientist"? (17) What is the role of science in society? (18) How does your profession relate to other professions around you? Who do you interact with on a daily basis? Do you consider yourself a specialist or a generalist / synthesizer? Inbreeding or outsourcing? (19) With a society crutching so much on scientific and technological knowledge, future leaders essentially need to be detail-savvy--to be able to dig deep into the rabbithole beyond the user-friendly consumer interface--just to make rational decisions about how to manage lifestyle as a collective. What do you see the role of the future scientist? What do they need to know? Especially in the realm of environmental issues? (20) Fundamental take-home message?

**Additional questions (a) Work completely consuming you and your life (b) What were you doing at our age (around 21)?

Two interviews of choice out of 10 that I sampled.
After watching about 10 videos, I have come to the realization that the two most "pertinent" or "ideal" interviews to our interests were those of (1) Dr. Andrew Steele (astrobiologist at NASA) and (2) Atoosa Rubenstein (editor-in-chief of 17 magazine). Dr. Steele's chat on astrobiology to a non-technical audience was quite impressive such that a complex topic was boiled down to simplicity and that his storytelling was engaging. I also wanted to see how the interviewers approached Dr. Steele: what specific questions did they ask him? And how did they respond? The second interview of choice was surprisingly Atoosa Rubenstein, primarily because she had the most vibrant, enthusiastic personality out all the clips I watched. Since Atoosa radiated positive energy around her, I noticed that I paid much more attention to what she had to say compared to all the other interviews. Having the opportunity to have a conversation wich such a unique character--despite her discipline or profession--would be a treat on its own!

My reaction to the interviews.
I left Dr. Steele's interview feeling inspired by his quoteable quotes such as "we are stardust" and that "no one has the right to pigeonhole us," but I felt that he left out a lot of information in terms of "What is the daily life of a scientist?" "And what are the pros and cons about being a scientist?" "How does your work specifically impact our daily life?" In addition, I would have pushed hard on trying to acquire B-roll, or essentially more visualization of what Dr. Steele stares at every single day through a microscope. Dr. Steele may have been a happy camper, but many students are mortified by the mere sight of a microscope. The aftertaste of Atoosa's interview was much like the rare delight of my mother's homemade cheesecake. I felt like that if I met Atoosa when I was an undergraduate, I probably would have hung out with her quite a bit as my "serious adventure" buddy. If I haphazardly ran into her in a coffeeshop, I would have had an epic one-hour conversation with her. No matter what Atoosa does, she will carry along her great vibes with her.

Additional questions to ask the interviewees.
There were several questions not touched upon in both interviews. As mentioned previously, I would have liked to have known more about "a day in the life" of a scientist such as Dr. Steele, as well as learning about what he thought the significance of his research was to society. A few other topics that were not addressed were (1) What were his activities or passions when he was a child? How did he fall in love with biology and not any other discipline? (2) How did his family encourage/discourage him through life? (3) What were the "other open doors" that he was adamant about keeping open? (4) If he had an opportunity to tell a story about his technical research to a non-traditional audience (say a classroom full of middleschoolers), how would the story look like (book, cartoons, film)? What would be the basic plot and characters? (5) How does he see the future of science? What will scientists be expected to know and do? A few questions I would be eager to ask Atoosa are: (1) Did she ever face major obstacles or conflicts with her family or background as a kid to get to where she are today? (2) Though her work consumes her, what does she do to take a break? (3) What is a typical "day in the life" of the Seventeen Magazine Editor-in-chief? (4) What is her magazine doing to inspire and raise awareness among the teen culture about environmental issues and opportunities to play a role in human-environmental change?

459. Proseish Poem "Unthrough the Soul"

"Unthrough the Soul" Prosey Poem Page 1.
"Unthrough the Soul" Prosey Poem Page 2.

When someone hurts you, and you have no authority to fight back, nor express it in a direct manner, poetry has served as perhaps the most therapeutic practice of releasing these emotions, as well as stabbing the person, without him or her even knowing it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

432. Poem "Subversivity of Dental Self Destruction"

Subversivity of Dental Self Destruction

If you hide it,
then there is something wrong,
and the vice
may be
even more so
than those revealed
to the openness
of their ripped sleeves."

I show my vice
on my teeth.
Decaying my whites
with Werthers
upon Werthers
denied with
sugar-free xylitol
tic-tac mints--
it's not that bad
relative to smoking
or alcoholism
or wrist slitting
or designing malicious bugs
for other computers
to self-destruct.
Or suicide cult planning
or bombing other countries
or just being an overall
pest to humanity
for my own vilenesss
of consumption
of valuable resources
and production
and nonutile wastes--
depending on the scale

of my operations.

Carameled sugar is an addiction
to feed a rapidly firing mind
for potentially up to 12 hours straight
of writing and thinking
and clinging to a computer
because she seeks what is written
on the computer
to one day reflect what is in her mind.
Mind mirrors
Computer's electrons
Mirrors mind.

And she is overwhelmed
by the influx of such splendid ideas
and notions of her surroundings
to a point of cumulative doom--
for she cannot keep up
and the sugar fix rises even more.
And all for what?
To become a better writer and artist?
I am destroying myself
to become better?

Day in, day out,
despite occasional brushing
and flossing and poking
and mouthwashing,
the bacterial colonies
move in, invade, occupy
establish incumbency,
and carve their crevices--
oh dear to think
I'm fostering an ecosystem
of malaise
in my major oral opening.
Good for the bacteria,
they are having a party,
I am sure,
yet not so hot for me.

But I dread and tread
myself, heavily into the
sterile multimilliondollar offices
of the dentist.
I hate him? Even her!
Because it costs so much?
Because some of them go to the realm
of aesthetics--beyond functionality?
Because they create dental problems--
hence my financial problems--
that don't seem to exist?
Because some of them are incompetent?
Because they have control over something
I cannot control and manage myself?
I cannot operate myself for fillings
and crowns
and bridges
and one day

Because I have
absolutely no control?
Oh yes, I'm slipping....
I am assuming I have no control.

I wonder where these dentists come from.
Why they even exist?
A few million years, billion years
without their functional
and aesthetic
and even technological existence.
Humans used to live till age 30.
Now it's 70.
But humans never ate sugar,
till the mass produced
canning and preservations of foods.
The dawn of sugar
was the dawn of dentists.

The dawn of strange biology people--
or dental jewerlyists--
who make a fantasmic monetary living
looking at, taking X-rays of,
poking at, sticking needles into,
chiseling away at, filling materials in to,
leaving something
slightly unfinished
so that their helpless
dazed and confused
customer limp in a fancy electric seat
can return for more pricy labors
of functionality to aesthetics
for the most beautiful
of perfect smiles of bleached coral white teeth
of small handful of overhyped movie stars,
with mine full of holes, stained yellow and brown
and I shall never hold a grin so parfait
as those pixelated figures on the screen--

So I smile with my eyes,
and somehow some people seem to like it.
I hide the sin of my mouth,
for the Culture of Perfect Teeth
has made my mouth a sin,
and I even feel shame myself.

You are
what you wish for."
And in the depths
of subversivity
of dental self destruction,
I somehow clutched to a wish
for the vanishing
of an array of external boneage
within my mouth.
I wished to dream a high price profession
that would allow me to set aside funds
for a fresh set of implants
after a resum-ation
of years of painful, slow, aggravating decay--

And--I am receiving
what I wished for.
The slipping and shifting,
from the whites,
to the yellows,
to the dark brownish blacks,
the relying and crutching
on exterior knowledges and technologies
to save me
to account for my vices
rather than me
clench to myself
and save myself--
not just for this moment,
but here on out--

rather than me to say--
I am my only beast
of self-management
of self-sustenance at hand--
and I have no one to help--
no one to hold me up
in my own island
of complexity--
my own internal dialogue
of conflict
and slight self destruction--
so why not take care
and to "love thyself"
and internalize
this externality
this stained vice
this crippled smile
only with the eyes?

"The originals are always the best--
Replacing your teeth with implants
is like purposely trying
to acquire a knee implant."
"That's absurd!"
Sisters exist to keep the absurd mind
from tumulting into decay of thought.
A mental snap
before a filling chips out

and disturbs my
vulnerable stomach?

What to do?
Slow the decay?
Slow my mind?
Get my head off of sugar meth
with half the velocity of thoughts
running through
per second of time?
It's okay to think slowly
and thoughtfully
though the world spins
like a waffling top
by a El Capitan cliff
of doom--

What is my new vision?
It is my own choice
to live... with...
or live... without...
my own evolutionarily-designed
crunching and grinding cubes.
My vice shall be my vice,
yet minimize it!

I will care as much as I can care
for my own Beastly Self
and I will hold my frail, splintering bones in place
for the longest possible
that I foreseeably can
within my own possible means.

How can I bother to think
of sustaining the world in its entirety
if I cannot even bother to
concsciously sustain my own microcosmos?
to the highest of standards
and healthiest of means?

And in last resort,
in daunting screams of pain?
Then I shall go visit the dentist.

Don't be down on yourself.
It is such paradoxical tragedy
no matter how much
I subversively deconstruct my teeth
my gums hold strong like
a child's fresh sand castle
that still has the capacity
to last long
in an ephemeral sense.

The dentist must become
my appendix,
an optional removal,
not my lungs,
not my emotions,
not my smiles,
not an unhealthy vice
that drags down the rest
of the blossoming
of my mind's heart.

UCSB Dental Clinic
Call for appointment 1:30pm
corporate time.

10am May 21.
Start with Tooth #12.

431. The Walking Stick with a Big Black Suitcase (Poem and Flash Fiction)

The Walking Stick with a Big Black Suitcase

There was a girl
who was a stick
of six feet tall
and 110 pounds.
She walked all across
the random campus
with her head down
perhaps to hide
her internal uneasiness,
her confusion,
her eyes glazing,
not knowing how to pinpoint
or identify this confusion--
this void--
where it came from,
where it's going--
but at that split moment
of circumstances
in space and time,
the confusion took form
of a big black suitcase
she was trailing behind her,
lugging and slogging around
in awkwardness
as if the suitcase
were at least equal
to her own weight
or biomass
or weight,
and she was angry
simply angry
to think she had to choose
her classes
of two from column A
and one from column B
but didn't know
any other road of thinking
and no one asked her... yet--
to wipe her mind to a blank slate
as if she saw all 1 million classes
in the book of all books
of this random campus
which one would she choose
to take?
Out of her own intrinsic interest?
Intrinsic hunger, desire?
Intrinsic pathway and journey to life?
Endemic to her own unique conglomeration
of neuronally-housed experiences?
Maybe she didn't deserve to have
this question asked to her.
Maybe she just wasn't ready for that question.
But the subliminal aggravation
always seemed to amplify.
So this walking stick
with a trailing big black suit case
crawled across the campus
to a random building of brown
to a random second floor
to a random, dimly lit office space
leading to a semi-random person
she met only a second time.
Eric Zimmerman' the name.
of somewhat youthful, moderate liveliness--
his skin had no layers
but his conversing interplay
had shown he'd been around the block--
perhaps it was the day of only moderate liveliness--
glum gray skies--
that influenced all moods around--
Eric's, the stick's, everyone's.
He shuffled papers that showed
her information in numbers.
They only need numbers, you know.
And Eric reviewed the stick's sheet:
To become an "environmental studies major"
You need to take physics, economics, geology--
And the walking stick
then sitting on a seat,
boiled with increasing anger, frustration, confusion--
agony, her mind craving to explode
because this world wanted her to repeat
repeat repeat
repeat repeat
the same information
she tried to learn so hard in high school--
the same information
that made her consume herself into a stick
in the first place--
her hands shook and jittered
on the verge of pseudo-epilepsy
as she pulled up the black suit case
to her bony knees
and rapidly unzipped the top,
struggling to pull out a big black binder
neatly stuffed with hundreds and hundreds of papers
three-point-five inches thick--
no, not ONE folder, but TWO!--
and what could these two binders
embody, represent, possibly mean?--
all those notes from lectures and labs and exams
from two years of painfully pleasured memories
of bootcamp physics with Madame Lieux
at John Wesly North High School--
an island of education extraordinaire--
yet the rest of all her classmates
placed those notes in the bombfire
of post-high-school graduation
in the cult ritualistic celebration
that my-ten-years-of-mass-produced-public-education-
but no, this walking stick
could not throw away--her efforts,
her meticulousness, her potentially gained knowledge
of new universes
of seemingly potential practicality
in her daily life
that were only mildly mentally sketched
in space and time--
then blindly repulsed and rejected by
the bureaucracy of MegaUniversity
who knew not her name, just her number
and her tuition and fees
all put to brain-time-and-space-waste
and redone again?
All over again?
As if 1% of her knot of confusion
that upwelled in her at this pristinely struck
moment of all moments
started to unravel right in front of the
poor innocent, random culprit of Eric Zimmerman
as she slammed her two massive binders
totalling 7-inches worth of two-year militaristic efforts
and she stared intensely, perhaps awkwardly--
this time not with a glossy gaze
but a rare, rare moment of acute, definite, yet absurd vision--
that seemed to lead Somewhere,
but Nowhere and Anywhere in particular--
at least a rationale, logical battle, fight she could stand for
as she roared in quiet, very quiet control,
oh no!--It was just a fight to spare her sanity
as the Future an endlessness
of flipping hamburgers of bombarded information--
"You are NOT going to make me take physics,
EVER again."
A pause, yet
only a vibrant chuckle, peaking into a deep-rooted laugh
emerged from the facial muscles
and jovial voice of Mr. Zimmerman,
as he flipped open one book and skimmed lightly
through the extensivity of the rabbithole of Lieux Physics
only again to shake his head,
"You know what, Victoria?
Ever since I've been here,
no one has EVER done THIS to me before!"
He continued to be self-humored
out of her own determined innocence
and downright intrigue to reveal piles and piles of evidence
on how-this-school-cannot-repeat-torture-to-me,
resulting in two boxes being checked off
on the paper with the walking stick's numbers.
No, no. The stick did not have to take physics.
She had won the most strangest of minute battles,
all with a few more thousand
knots in her twisted head that needed to still unravel.
Eric made her fight a little more difficult
to check off those economics and geology boxes...
but the suitcase filled with Effort and Legitimacy
was still quite heavy
without those two physics binders
and through the shuffling of her Past in Papers
Across the Random Office of Mr. Zimmerman
she learned that it was worth keeping evidence
in the closet, the Personal Library of Victoria,
back in the knowns and comforts of Riverside--
despite the qualms of her mother
desiring a Roomie Bedroom,
Not an Office Space or a Warehouse--
the stick finally zipped up her backpack,
her big black suitcase,
and left Mr. Zimmerman with a memory,
with one fleeting wobble and stumble,
leaving the random room,
the random hallway,
the random building,
the random walkway
with a slight smile,
with a slight ease
knowing she could move forward
into Nowhere in Particular
rather than repeat Backwardness
yet upon her lengthy walk
she was nevertheless
swiftly consumed
and subsumed
by the other 99% of the void.
The stick struggled once again
to hall a heavy load
across the campus
to the free, yet sparse parking boonies of
Isla Vista.
It was a week before the school started.
The campus was a ghost town,
but her head was far from it.
It was just the very beginning
for this walking stick--
just the beginning of a chronically internal battle
on how her rowdy, fiesty mind
could just never fit in these boxes
that the Cow Herders of Academia
were trying to fit her in.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

430. Sometimes Life Happens and You Allow Yourself to Absorb It: Jesusita Fire, Oak Trees, Los Padres Forest…. Wildland Fire Ecology Can of Worms

SidebySide Pictures of Heaven and Hxll on Earth. Life has just been happening to me. I have no control over it, and I am trying with my darndest hardest to soak it up and let it alter me and my perception of reality. Today I just witnessed my fifth-in-a-row FIN (Fisheries Information Network) meeting in light of effective fisheries collaboration (and instead of feeling overwhelmed, I actually feel proud of being a part of novel history). A few days ago I escaped the Jesusita Fire of Santa Barbara and managed to snap the chaos of houses burning down amidst chaparral. And a few days before that, I was as far north as the Heavenly Highway 41 (connecting Morro Bay to Atascadero on the 101 freeway), where I encountered an "enchanted forest" of gnarly, tangled coast live oak trees and the front yard of a ranch where figurine dinosaurs were romping around--probably in an area larger than the encroaching Sarengeti of Africa! And these adventures are just scratching the surface! Stokastika!

"Enchanted Forest of Entangled Coast Live Oak." Los Padres National Forest Campground off the Highway 41, from Morro Bay to Atascadero, California. If I had one more day left to live, I would be amidst and immersed the oak trees....

Jesusita Fire. Day 2. May 2009. Flames amidst chaparral amidst homes. Image taken from Ontare Road with a Nikon D80. Soon after I was booted out with others by the police. "Official evacuation!" I wish I had a reporter's badge and my own helicopter (because my father is a fire ecologist! I should have a right to be closer and take necessary pictures!) then I could have gotten REALLY COOL photographs like some of the work from the Los Angeles Times!

Jesusita Fire. Day 2. May 2009. Environmental Devastation Predestination. Humans setting up their own human-environmental devastation predestination, allowing fuel build up for half a century under Smokey the Bear Fire Regime... a homogenous stand of carpet bomb chaparral blew up before my very eyes.... Why prevent wildland fire when these plants are adapted to fire?!! (Scarid seeds, burls). Image taken near Ontare Road with a Nikon D80.

Santa Barbara MicroHiroshima. Jesusita Fire. Day 2. May 2009. A MicroHiroshima appeared right behind a hillside that was bursting in flames. Was it a house?! A gasoline tank?! A grove of Eucalyptus?! Image taken with a Nikon D80 near by Ontare Road.

Dichotomy: Luxurious Architecture in Hellish Smoke-plumed Skies. Jesusita Fire. Day 2. May 2009. I find it ironic that I have lived with my father's research-management dilemma of southern California wildland fire management all these years... and I still... until this day... did not attempt to get close and take pictures of these catastrophic events that fundamentally symbolize why I am interested in the interface of science and society! The other issue that bothered me with my wildland fire photography is that I felt that I was not "close enough" to the fire--when comparing my photographs to those displayed by the Los Angeles Times. I felt jealous that reporters were essentially IN the flames, alongside the firefighters. But then again, perhaps they are photos too focused on human interest stories rather than the conceptual properties of wildland fire. Maybe taking a step back is a good thing!

Santa Barbara MicroHiroshima. Jesusita Fire. Day 2. May 2009. A MicroHiroshima appeared right behind a hillside that was bursting in flames. Was it a house?! A gasoline tank?! A grove of Eucalyptus?! Image taken with a Nikon D80 near by Ontare Road.

Wildland Fire Ecology Can of Worms. I can now see why I was struggling to write this blog for about five days now. I am documenting intimate issues of my father's research... I am entering a meshed-up, entangled can of worms in my own head concerning wildland fire ecology and management--the interface of science and society. Maybe getting distracted by a fisheries stakeholder meeting is good thing. The flames and flares inside me cooled down (and were diverted elsewhere) as well as the flames in the Santa Barbara Jesusita Fire.

I started to think about what the fundamental message would be to anyone for such a complicated issue. When you change the scale of perception of a system, then your perception of the underlying driving factors that create the overall pattern shift. The given paradigm of thinking is instantaneous: the cause of the fire is the ignition. But there are several ingredients to make all things tick (or burn), and if you want to understand longer-term perspectives, you wear a new perceptual hat: "the cause of the fire is the plants." (predictability of outcome with given fuel accumulation, mass accumulation effects, tipping point). And with this fundamental shift in perception of a system, there is an overall shift in the entire approach to managing the systems--there should be a shift in the research agenda, a shift in educational/storytelling practices, a shift in media reporting of wildland fire, a shift in wildland fire policy (Smokey the Bear is dead! We can have a Smokey the Bear bonfire, burn the bobble head and a stuffed animal), shift in forestry management. It's all easy to think about in the head, and how do you move chess pieces of how society operates in the real world?! It's hard to get people to change thinking, change behavior, especially when their jobs depend on it. It take a really long time... and usually people have to get burned in the process. Ecosystem-based management is a lovely game to play in the minds of scientists and scholars, but a devastating, painful, long-term process in the world outside. It's nice to dream that things can change fast... but that usually requires a Hurricane Katrina catastrophe in the realm of fire ecology (2003-2007 firestorm). It's like one slight shift or tick in thinking requires society to redo it's entire wardrobe of human-environmental relations! And why it's very hard to manage a large-scale society in the domain of human-environmental health. Intrinsic inertia. You have to lose everything to be desperate, to gain, to see new things.... [bumper sticker: The cause of the [wildland] fire is the plants. Give it to every person you interview. Put on car. Drive away. Contingency: arsonist can't make a living in Death Valley. No fuel no fire. Contingency. No mass extinction ["mass suicide"] without a mass accumulation. [Perceptual shift --> reworks reality --> paradigm shift]

429. Poem Called "The Encroachment" (Similar to Creeping Development and Whatever's Left of the Wildwest, Unfinished Poems)

The Encroachment
(Affiliated with Poems Creeping Development /
Whatever's Left of the Wildwest)
By Victoria "Stokastika" 2009

So the ocean shifted
Into a swimming pool,
And the mountains wilted
Into my own backyard.

The more I knew Unknowing
Of-the non-human world,
The more I came to own
This world as very small.

I thought I'd find a treasure--
Creviced infinity--
That spanned the universe
Of stars and galaxies.

Wildwest's never in measure
'Till Known came encroaching
A creep of man's disruption
Mind's pave developing--
[Mind's construct intruding]
[of trespassing, of intruding, of invading]

Without slight detecting--

To a discomfort
of confinement.

I just realized that this poem is a continuation of my California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) essay, which started with this journal entry:

Whatever's Left of the Wildwest:

“It’s strange to think—I look out to the Pacific Ocean, and all I perceive is an endless continuum of a slightly curvatured, blue-liquid landscape, partly breeched by an angled wall of shrub-coated solid rock of the Channel Islands. And to think—despite the intrinsic human tendencies to bound systems through somewhat concrete geologic and biological delineations—that there are arbitrary human-constructed lines of regimes slashing up and down upon this continuity of space to which I cannot see with my naked eye… it’s just daunting… as if I were seeing ghosts. But then again, maybe these invisible streaks of barbwire need to exist, simply because there are too many humans like myself gazing upon and intertangling their modes of existence with this seeming vastness of blue. And all the sharp, translucent prickles of barbwire at least attempt to keep these rhythms aligned and as disentangled as possible. Rendering the chronic accumulations of our individual meddlings now dramatically shrinks this infinite expanse of ocean into merely a giant backyard swimming pool.”
[Biologically Incorrect Journal Entry, January 2009]

426. Poem Called "Real Thing" Continuation of Blog #423 "The Tragedy of Nature in a Box"

PDF version of the the poem is HERE:

Above is a poem called "Real Thing" as to which I wrote back in early March of 2006, when I went with the UC LEADS gang from UC Riverside to the annual UC LEADs Research Symposium event held at UC Santa Cruz that year. The concept is a continuation of "Tragedy of Nature in a Box" which is a satire of the "commodification of Nature" in order to save and keep alive the dxmn thing you love! At the same time, commodification or plastification of Nature adds a lot of "clutter" to our human lives. This poem embodies the notion of how the author was so excited and overwhelmed to finally encounter the "real thing" of the redwood tree rather than the plastificated and pixelated representation of the thing itself.

I started relooking and re-editing this poem post Origins Conference (April 2009) and then became completely fired up about the "Tragedy of Nature Inside a Box" Syndrome as I heard about Communications Campaigns in saving deep coral reefs during the COMPASS conference. I am destined to be locked into something I don't want to do if I want to be financially viable in this society! AAACCCKKK!!!

Well, I think there is a fine line in terms of what I think is "cool" and "not cool" in terms of "nature" versus "representations of nature." When a scientist discovers the mechanisms of sticky feet in geckos and then applies this knowledge to making super sticky glue to enhance fundamental properties of engineering materials for the practical embetterment of all of humanity... I honestly don't have a problem with that. This is the genius process of science and engineering! When Tiffany and Co. makes a very small collection of fine jewerly that celebrates the inspiration of deep coral in our oceans, and then sells these figurines for really jack rip-off prices to elitists members of this society... I still somehow don't have a problem with that, because the process of generating a rare art piece demonstrates inspiration from the natural world. Maybe the mass produced marketing and pixelation of the rare art piece bugs the hxll out of me. When gecko plastic figurines are being deformedly mass produced (along with fake plastic redwood tree figurines) in China and then sold as dinnerware and bathroom decor or sold as useless mass-produced table-top oh-that-kinda-cool-to-look-at-trinket right along side the Hannah Montana collection... THEN... I'm starting to have a problem with that. Fine lines are crossed. I'm a scale person. Small-scale is good, large-scale becomes sin because it's ultimately heavily bioturbating and impactive and non-sustaining.... There's a fine line between inspirational production versus mass-production commodificaiton to make a buck.

(How come the Bible's stopped being written?) Maybe I should write an updated Chapter to the Bible, and add an 11th Commandment. Plastification of Nature and Experience: Scale is Sin. Thou shalt come to know and learn of thou local community. Thou shalt live and consume and produce locally with thou local community. Otherwise, as my father says, "Truth comes with scale."

428. Poem "The Living and Standing Dead" I Had Wanted to Write for a Long Time

"The Standing Dead." Photograph of dead Jeffrey Pine (Ponderosa Pine?) taken when hiking past the ski hut, on the way up to Mount Baldy, San Gabriel Mountains, with my father Richard and my aunt Jean in the summer of 2006. Can eventually be overlaid as "vispo" to go along with the poem below. Now I have to find some zombie-suit-and-tie-people-in-the-city for a "Living Dead" photograph!

The Living and Standing Dead
(incomplete, but a start)

There was a dimcity of the Living Dead,
Lurking in a sphere in a doomful dread,
Stooped, stoic stones faced black and white,
Draped in veneers, lustered suit and tie.

If you're telling me this is the Peak's Peak
Of Civilization's grandeur Ferris Wheel,
If you're telling me, then I will just shriek--
We'll run back-n-hide in the jungle of fields.

Whatever is left of those jungles of fields.

There was a glumforest of the Standing Dead
Made by the sum of the Hands without Heads.
Too many straws sucked the ground to a drought,
Burning to the beetles' once voracious bouts.

If you're telling me this is the Peak's Peak
Of civilization's landscaped Ferris Wheel,
If you're telling me, then I will just shriek--
We're running to the Nothing left of jungled fields.

The Nothing is what's left of those jungled fields.

I wrote this poem in a Motel 6 the morning of returning to the chaos of "southern California." The chaos in my head dramatically increased because I had been relatively isolated and car-camping for about a week around the San Luis Obispo area. The second line of chaos was my encounter and attempted photography of the Santa Barbara Jesusita fire.... and the chaos keeps piling on from there.... It's funny how I can tip in from one line of chaos to another line... from being too alone and isolated... and then venturing into the realm of being surrounded by too many people.

The point of the story is that the writer was suffering from being in a "dimcity of Living Dead" and then she and her friends tried to run out to the "jungle of the fields" and that is where they found the "glumforest of the Standing Dead" and now the poet has no where left to run to... to find any state of "peace."

Another short thought. Yesterday I met up with Shannon Switzer in Costa Mesa. It was really relieving to see her actually. I haven't seen anyone in the Woven Atom group for a while. I admire Shannon so much because she has this impeccable personality (in terms of a kind, intelligent, sensitive, loveable personality that everyone would glue to like super-power magnets), a big vision (in terms of a career in science and art, National Geographic, science and society), and VERY good networking-go-get-'em skills. She has already proven that to me--Shannon has evolved greatly in a few short months of intern stints in Santa Barbara. So, I am relieved to see her because it's like "here are two girls with really big visions in their heads and no one to gripe to and vent and no one to share the journey with... and then finally you have someone who's going the same direction and you just play off each other's moves and we BOTH end up going somewhere. Eh?" Not a bad deal. Thinking Big can be a lonely journey, especially because most people don't think big--or they thought big and instead they settled with a family and a job and dropped out of the road to going to Mars and back. And the Andromeda Galaxy and back. Shannon and I also talked about people around us "encourage us" but don't help in the process. They are encouragement, but not inspiration. There are people who say "you can do it" in terms of shooting for the stars, and then there are people you meet you can actually merge your heads with--like siamese twinning in the brain to some degree--and then you can shoot to the stars with them!

In a certain way I am sad that Shannon's no longer in Santa Barbara, but in a certain way it's good--she's in the San Diego area--I'm there a lot more frequently now... and that Shannon's no longer in the "heap of clutter" of my head that lies in Santa Barbara.

Inspiration is a rare and precious thing. Grasp it and roll with it, once you have claimed it!

427. Two Short Poems: Trying to Get Back in Context / Back in My Head

Poem #1:

I don't know
Where I'm going.
I don't know
Where I've been.
Out of context
I am floating.
Unlatched to Self's
The Very Sin

of Existence.

I just made up this poem right now... this morning. Tuesday morning in May. I just came from visiting my good friend Lauri, zipping around in San Diego, a hectic (but very good) fisheries stakeholder meeting, a sick tomato-poisoned best friend, Santa Barbara burning down, and a trip from up in northern California. And so? I feel a bit out of context. Not very processable in a single blog! It's funny at one point in the COMPASS communcations workshop, Dr. Ron Rice (Communications Professor) mentioned (sarcastically) [paraphrased] about how surveys usually involve people's perception of certain issues, and he finds it ironic how can we try to figure out people's perception of issues when they don't even have 50% accuracy in perception of their own selves? People don't even keep track of themselves or even know themselves, the body and the mind they are housed in! So much for religions attempting people to be in tune with themselves!

Poem #2:

Why do I
Have to go
Through the Past
Just to get
To the Future?

I wrote this poem on my first drive / first train ride to San Diego from Santa Barbara--back in March of 2009. The future was (and still is ) waiting for me in San Diego, but I had to go through regions of notable failure in Los Angeles and Orange County... baggage of the past, so to speak... primarily in the film and music industry. But I am learning how to train my mind to go forward with what works, and account for / scrap all the pathways and elements that don't work.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

425. On Life and Death: Proximate and Ultimate Cycles of the Phoenix (Based on Blog #424)

On Life and Death: Proximate and Ultimate Cycles of the Phoenix (Based on Blog #424). Phenomena of Individual and Collective Action. Cycles of Origins and Endings, births, shifts, and deaths, constructions and catastrophs, are ultimately similar themes of all the sciences and serves as a universal narrative theme of science when we ask "Who are we? And what is our place in the universe?" One of my advisors asked me whether these were even the "right questions" after all? Are origins and endings and singularities over multiple sources simply desirable human constructs that we use to create scientific stories that ultimately carve "reality"? Well?! I can walk away from the Origins Symposium at Arizona State University (April 2009) feeling like I've learned something. The overarching universe that science has carved through the accumulation of miniscule replicate experiments... ultimately is a singularity... a single narrative with no replicates. No multiverses. No replicate planet Earths... for now.... To a scientist, that philosophically SUCKS. I would be the one to know!

Are these phenomena really happening in the environment or are they merely constructs in our minds?

Cartoon Slideshow. On Life and Death: Cycles of the Phoenix. Phenomena of Individual and Collective Action. Universal Narrative Theme of Science (and Society).