Sunday, November 29, 2009

485. Photography and Poetry for the Day After the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) Storm ::: Recuperation on the Ocean

Blurb for Photography Collection:
The Day After the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Force Storm ::: Recuperation on the Ocean.
The day after the November 10, 2009 Blue Ribbon Task Force Meeting, I knew that my dire condition of mental chaos needed to be soothed and repaired by the ocean itself. Most importantly, after drowning in the waves of human commotion within the confines of a hotel room of quintessential corporate drab decor, you kind of need to be reminded WHY I or any one of us even go these these information-barbaric AA (Alternative Addictions for the Ocean) meetings in the first place! We're all fish out of water in these gatherings... we just want to return to where we all truly want to be... by or on or under the Big Blue itself. After all the entropy of the previous day, I was compelled to take and edit photographs that displayed warm starkness, bleakness... sheer minimalism... reconstructing a blank slate for my brain. So instead of taking pictures of seagulls, I decided to take pictures of REFLECTIONS of seagulls in the calm morning waters of Point Loma, California.

PDF for the poem "Incestuous" can be found here:

The circumstance for creating this poem was actually "post October 22, 2009" Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) Meeting. I remember myself driving in the dark towards Santa Barbara (probably from Los Angeles, Riverside, or San Diego--I don't remember). So, I ended up writing two poems in response to my first round of BRTF meetings. This one and "Part of the Process" in Blog 472. The most powerful metaphor I was ever told about fishing was "a fisherman's goal is to essentially get to know his region so well that he is able to mentally 'pull up the blue blanket' and know all the nooks and crannies of the terrain underneath. Instead of being on being on the ocean and catching fish, the world is transformed such that the fisherman is floating on a boat in the sky and is using his hooks/lines/traps to capture floating birds and rodents in the mountains and valleys and vegetation below." This metaphor keeps coming back to me in a pleasantly haunting way, and then I kept thinking about all the metaphors fisheries reps have thrown at me and I started to come to realize that the "summation of these isolated metaphors" seemed to embody some kind of intimate love-hate relationship between a male and female, except in this case it's a male fisherman and female ocean. And of course, being bored in the car, my mind started to form a poem/song ditty in the middle of the night, now finalized as "Incestuous." The last poem I sent to my ultimate poetry pal Barry Spacks was this "Part of the Process," and he didn't really fully process the poem--though the people I spoke to at the BRTF MLPA meetings most certainly responded with a laugh, "Oh, I get it! I totally get it!" I realized that this poem was only registered by those who have experienced and endured the MLPA process, and it seems to the rest of the folks out there, these poems seem to be a bunch of riddles. The latest poems I have given to Barry, he responded in such a way that they will only be understood "if I provide footnotes." This has become a consistent theme in our email transactions. I have become increasingly frustrated, but at the same time I have to remember that "I am a scientist or a brain immersed in science for 20+ years dumping a bunch of new metaphorical associations into the literary world, which is riddled with stretched associations of the same / usual metaphors" (from Mike Davis' class), so the best thing that I can do is to assume completely nothing of the audience (though Barry at one point said to assume an astute audience when submitting to literary journals, but this audience is only "astute" in terms of the nuances of "literary tradition," but I have come to learn that their backgrounds in science, engineering, and most other fields of trade are quite weak." So, the best thing I can do now, is that nearly every poem I write, I NEED TO WRITE FOOTNOTES TO EXPLAIN THE CONTEXT OF THE POEM.

And in light of this NEW HABIT, I wrote a footnote for "Incestuous," which is included below:

"—This poem/ditty attempts to capture the relationship between a California fisherman and regional segment of the ocean to where he fishes, in which in this case, the ocean is metaphorically replaced in order to describe an edgy, dicey, yet subsisting affair with a female. The feminine analogy parallels the more common “mother earth” construct, except this poem documents a more precise “love-hate” relationship of “temptation and taming.”

Some unusual notes of the day out on the water with Jules:

(1) We did some sheephead trap fishing with the nearshore fisheries and we got a hit of 8 or so fish in one of the 8 traps.

(2) We caught our personal goal/quota of 50 legal sized lobsters, though we probably caught and released hundreds of lobsters all together.

(3) I made some significant advances in photography: (a) I FINALLY figured out how to adjust the APERTURE of my Nikon D80 though I had this dang camera for almost THREE YEARS! (b) I discovered that my "extra gadget/gizmo lenses and filters" for my ancient prosumer camera Nikon Coolpix 5700 were compatible with my Nikon D80 lenses, and so now I have a telephoto lens and a fish eye lens attachment I only paid 50 bucks for ebay, and if I bought 'official' lenses otherwise, it would probably rack up a cost of $2000. Definitely works with my impoverished graduate student budget! (c) So I ended up prolifically using the "fish eye lens" on our Point Loma boat trip today, and I decided that every single time I go on the boat, I will have to experiment with (i) a specific theme aka "Evolution of Art" or (ii) a specific technological trick/contraption, e.g. new lighting tools or filters or lenses. (d) I started becoming bored with taking "ordinary photographs" and I'm more interested in creating surrealistic effects with photographs or "imposing a reality in the photograph that's not necessarily there in the outerworldly reality" (which is what makes MRH's photographs unique and distinctive); low shutter speed, high aperture, soft focus, losing details, intentionally fogging the lens with your breath or even with vaseline!

(4) I feel guilty because instead of my head filling up with names of fishes and invertebrates, it's been clogged with names of people/individuals from the MLPA process. I'm experiencing lots of interference with recent memory of the MLPA process and my deep memory of taking my invertebrate zoology and parasitology courses. *Sigh.* But at the same time, I had ironic visions for that MLPA film: (a) comparing personalities of stakeholders to personalities of ocean creatures (b) the discrepancy between language and the visual reality of the place, for example, Jules was giving me an orientation to this very thick Point Loma Kelp bed, "Oh, the Marine Map says there's not kelp here. Especially there's no persistent kelp around here" while in the backdrop our boat was getting tangled with the excessive forest of kelp breeching the water surface (I guess at low tide) (c) Bedford did some really cute "hand-finger movements" to display the whole "moving the goal posts" metaphorical effect of the Science Advisory Team... that definitely goes into the flick. (d) overlay of corporate drab hotel scenery with interplaying ocean scenery... definite theme....

KEY WORDS: atmospheric photography, surrealism, poetry, south coast Marine Life Protection Act, MLPA, ocean, photography, alternative addictions for the ocean, fine art, minimalism, abstract, incestuous, ocean-sky-fish-birds metaphor, ditty, song, blanket metaphor, mother earth, footnotes, photographic learning, male-female relationships, fish-eye lens, telephoto lens, MLPA film

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

484. New Media Studio (NMS / NMRI) Photography Gig for the NASA Data Visualization Conference at the Upham Hotel (SB, CA, Oct 27, 2009)

Blurb for the Photography Portfolio Above: NASA Data Visualization Conference Hosted by the New Media Studio ( at the Upham, Santa Barbara, California. October 27, 2009. Conference participants include: Bruce Caron, Marty Landsfeld, John Moreland, David Nadeau, Marit Jentoft-Nilsen, Jeff McWhirter, Chris Torrence, Tommy Jasmin, Suresh Santhanavannan, Kevin Ward (out sick?), Eric Russell, Robert Simmon, and Tom Rink.

Dr. Bruce Caron of the New Media Studio asked me if I wanted to engage in some photography and errand-running for a conference on data visualization funded by NASA, and of course, as curious as I am, I said "yes"! This conference or "data summit" was quite a unique and humbling experience in several respects:

(1). The group was very small and interactive, in the "sherettes" format; people worked in groups of three, and these groups were rotated throughout the day based on a mix of numbers, shapes, and colors designated to each individual; participants were given problems and challenge questions, and they were encouraged to write answers on a webiste as well as brainstorm on sheets of papers, which were posted up on walls around the room; this sherettes conference format is quite unusual--compared to the routine 15-minute conference powerpoint talk that allows very minimal two-way street interactivity that can be displayed in a tangible format--I think that if this style of conferece were adopted at a much wider scale then research collaborations would end up being a lot more meaningful.

(2). The meat of the conference--Technical Issues in Data Visualization--was pretty much way over my head and made me realize how much I don't know. I am an "environmental media" graduate student, but I'm as primitive as "paper and pencil scanned into photoshop" (I'm so primitive I even DRAW out my maps rather than use GIS!) whereas the people around me are individuals who... who... design weather maps that my dad and my fishermen friends stare at all the time! It's fantastic! I also heard several concerns about "data compatibility issues" and "the structure of grant funding sources." The group was clearly interdisciplinary, and they were frustrated on how funding sources "frame" the way how research is directed and is preventing true "interdisciplinary" pursuits to address fundamental issues such as data compatibility. Funding sources are limiting the capacities of advancing research simply by constructing arbitrary boundaries on disciplines and projects.

(3). I was encouraged to create a Twitter account for this NASA data summit conference.... It's very limited... only two posts... I'm not so sure how I feel about USING Twitter yet. All I know for sure is that I think that Twitter continues to promote ADHD thinking. I like to express myself in larger chunks of information rather than trying to continuously and compulsively sell myself in a sensationalizingly smack-dabbing 140 characters.... Okay, all novel things intimidate me. If I were truly open-minded, I would be experimental with Twitter.... Okay, okay... another day....

(4). I have to admit, I was nicely paid to help out! And I had a stock of doughnuts and cookies for the week which I tried to distribute to my housematies. I had so many sweet things myself that I ended up not wanting to eat any sugar for 3 weeks.... I couldn't even enjoy Halloween!!!
From a photographer's point of view, it was an "ideal" photographic setting for me. Low, soft light... reflections in windows... it reminded me of several shoots during my short-term apprenticeship with Mark Robert Halper over the summer; I think even he himself would have been intrigued by the lighting in the conference room. Since my internship with Mark, I met 3 or 4 photographers from renowned newspapers in southern California. Honestly, there's no comparison in quality. Mark's work is just a step, significant leap beyond the standard. Honestly, a vast majority of news journalism photography isn't all that great... unless you get into the National Geographic big leagues. It's funny to think how a short-term internship can profoundly impact me; I hear Mark's voice in my head almost all the time when I shoot: "Create something that doesn't necessarily exist in the world outside" and "Build a photograph from the ground up, from scratch, from a blank slate" are notions that keep coming back to haunt me....

Dr. Caron is organizing a book surrounding this conference, which I think is fantastic! It will be nice to see what research may turn out of such a conference. I also admit that there were a lot of "cool buzz words" floating around... it was a jarble of a semantic jungle to my ears, to my brain... goes to show how much I need to learn... and surely another bout of inspiration for a semantic jungle cartoon!

Chaotic Verbiage of the NASA Data Viz Jargon Jungle:
geoscience ~ pagerank ~ 2 ~ 3 ~ 1 ~ red ~ green ~ blue ~ triangle ~ circle ~ square ~ data visualisers ~ dataviz ~ bridge science-outreach divide ~ social networking ~ IPD ~ proprietary versus open source ~ pure Java script ~ AJAX ~ Spring ~ HTML 5 ~ canvas object ~ AJAX on server ~ compatibility issues ~ fragmented government funding programs ~ Google javascript ~ file format issues ~ Flex / Flash ~ Java-Spring-AJAX versus Flex-Flash, what will rule? ~ GIS ~ mapping data on landscapes ~ arcGIS ~ data versus visual representation of data ~ 2D-3D-4D-5D ~ underserved user groups? ~ writing / editing book ~ data and video ~ animations ~ video distribution ~ book content ~ gridded data ~ grid to grid fusion capabilities ~ science-public ~ the perfect earth data remote sensing visualization tool-system ~ main components? ~ book audience ~ viewing Earth data ~ jpg 2000 ~ geo TIFF? KML ~ grid data talk to GIS ~ smart maps ~ GIS point and polygon data and grid and satellite data ~ open source COTS versus custom tools ~ write plug-ins for existing packages ~ repertoire of software ~ durable URLs ~ sources of error ~ tool kits ~ component frameworks ~ different presentations of the same data ~ html-Flash-CMS ~ wiki "build your own web page" ~ NSF promote science-society divide through funding structure, before 1950s science had private funding structure ~ social media ~ emerging technologies ~ data CMS ~ RAMADDA ~ visualization IS conveying information ~ teacher knows answer, needs to convey, scientist is exploring the question, needs to convey ~ outreach programs too top-down with no feedback ~ "public doesn't understand science"? ~ two-way motivation of science and community ~ features for tools ~ embedded description ~ error tracking ~ error propagation during data fusion ~ resample data for fusion ~ facilitate data fusion ~ raw data, processed-regridded-data ~ algorithm-tools-gridding are data-dependent ~ embed data units, scaling, offsets ~ standards for data fusion ~ openDAP to OGC ~ acquisition-calibration ~ storage precision ~ omission ~ measurement ~ interpolation in gridding ~ reprojection ~ visualization ~ round off of floating points ~ error or uncertainty ~ flagging ~ data quality levels ~ confidence intervals ~ plot results of model ensembles ~ COTS as effective software engineering and management ~ software engineering perspective ~ data processing ~ spatial and temporal resolution ~ time distance from desired date ~ quality of metadata ~ provenance (birth place) ~ lowest error ~ data provider ~ credibility of curator ~ consistency ~ outlier detection ~ overview, zoom and filter, details on demand ~ strop screwing around with the multiplicity of data formats ~ lack of data convention, though standard format ~ data and metadata ~ enhanced semantics ~uniform tools for translating data ~ education for data providers ~ teckies ~ enthusiasm to contribute ~ user-friendly book for dabblers with data visualization ~ politics major driver, motivation to take credit for tangible results, branding ~ status quo likely to continue ~ proliferation of semi-redundant software ~ refinement ~ reinforces success ~ future: Google Earth, but with data ~ immersive technology: 2D image contour, 3D volume surface, 4D 3D + time, animated videogame, 5D multiple parameters ~ show data in multiple ways, visually and analytically, not just "pretty pictures" ~ data aesthetic ~ probing ~ transects through data ~ scatter plot ~ slice and dice ~ lumping and splitting ~ time series analysis ~ multiple linked views into the same data 4-up ~ geographic displays with charts ~ 3D has problem with perspective ~ exploration capability ~ 2D control pixel color, transparency, glyph ~ domains create grid data from point-observation data ~ parameterizations ~ large-scale grids, tiling ~ integrated data systems ~ client applications ~ Barnes objective analysis ~ resampling ~ irregular and unstructured grids ~ server ~ NCEP ~ single 3D-field ~ community-based-large-social-media ~ relationship meningitis outbreak and precipitation patterns of sub-Saharan Africa ~ all data can be mapped on Google Earth (real-time movie), down to resolution of people doing activities in real time, loss of privacy? ~ Carl Sagan Cosmos visual signals with narrative ~ planet walks ~ painted lines ~ hierarchizing, prioritizing data highlight and representation, filtering ~ verisimilitude ~ make systems appear as audience expects to appear ~ Google Earth discontinuous boundaries ~ image sweet spot, make data discoverable ~ enable system monitoring ~ processing pipeline ~ thumbnail ~ data formatting ~ complete metadata ~ lightweight animated image ~ lossless versus lossy compression ~ how much do users care? ~ grids sample a continuous function of reality ~ sampling has aliasing artifacts ~ interpolation to reduce aliasing artifacts ~ track propagation of error ~ file format, files often store the result, but not the path to that result and the error function ~ floating-point representation as text ~ change resolution ~ incomplete or inconsistent metadata ~ undocumented data satellite correction ~ incorrect math (floor versus ceil versus trunk) ~ color code uncertainty ~ data-software-hardware different dimensionality ~ 3D spatial dimension displays ~ interactive displays ~ iPhone location app ~ real world drives 2D representation ~ single user versus collaborative displays ~ detail optimization ~ eye level ~ facilitate discovery of data and its provenance ~ no "black boxes" ~ monolithic GUI ~ social media share workflow artifacts facilitate iterative collaboration ~ heavy weight but not on the web Java ~ AJAX overly complex ~ Flash Silverlight proprietary ~ lack well-defined toolkits for building user interfaces ~ weak standard support among browsers ~ browser quirks ~ sandboxing ~ client-side GUI ~ desktop and iPhone platforms ~ API ~ extension for customization ~ COTS proprietary data formats a problem ~ UI level to rendering level ~ future data display ~ 2D and 2.5D most useful, 3D and beyond no return for efforts ~ humans poor perceiving depth, humans perceive 6 depths at most at one time ~ human eyes rarely same strength ~ computer technology poor illusion of deptch ~ holideck data collection? ~ human perception at Z plane is 10% of our 2D strength ~ domain conflicts ~ perception, cultural constructs of colors (e.g. red = hot, blue = cold), dimension-independent issues versus problems specific to 2D or 3D data ~ calibration ~ canonical, didactic, apogee ~ cross-referencing ~ incentivize sharing of data ~ on-line community ~ build the best tool ~ audience of funding sources, tool-makers, program managers ~ basecamp ~ netCDF ~ flexible syntax ~ sound-on-sound tutorials ~ NYT graphics ~ IEEE

Thursday, November 19, 2009

483. Poem "How Does It Feel" Based on a Tragic Car Accident

Yesterday I had an opportunity to meet "Waldo" as Jules calls him, and he told me of a horrific story in which a 21-year old girl was hit by a car that was going 60 miles-per-hour. She is presently in a coma, but is receiving intense hospital care, and they are slowly weening her off the respiratory machine. I was very attracted to this story because (1) the situation explores very visceral, subconscious forms of existence, and requires imagination of how this visceral form of existence relates to states of higher consciousness (I'm sure Samuel Beckett would approve of my showing interest!) and (2) this scenario could happen to anyone--including myself. Victoria as "jogger roadkill." Absurd, and yet not. Something very real. And from a personal take, this story can definitely explain why Waldo suddenly went MIA for a while when we anticipated on meeting about 3-4 weeks ago.

I hope all outcomes of this story turn for the better. And through writing this poem, it has helped me imagine how it could possibly feel being in such a helpless state.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

482. Poem "Chamise: An Apparent Diagnosis" Coupled with Primitive Artwork "The Biological Basis of Perception"

PDF file for the poem "Chamise: An Apparent Diagnosis" is found here:

Blurb for the above collection of art and poem: "The Biological Basis of Perception" ::: Ancient Art Coupling with Poem "Chamise: An Apparent Diagnosis" Sketch Images Made in Fall of 2007. Featuring floaters, snakes, petal waves, the flowery wormhole, and burned imprints of inner nerve networks in the eyelids. The nose included as well. And no, I have never done mushrooms, nor any other hallucinogen. My brain is already mildly hallucinatory already, to my fortune or misfortune! "I am more drunk when I am not drinking at all" "If you find me at a bar, I'm probably the only one drinking coffee in the room."

Today I am in Riverside. Yesterday was Mike Davis' course in "landscapes and writing." Riverside used to be my "forbidden territory." My "land of failure." But through Mike's course, my once forsaken history is starting to return to me, in very slow, discrete digestible chunks. Earlier I jogged up Two Trees in the Box Springs Mountains. It has been over a half of a year since I trail-ran this area, and two very crisp ideas came to me. One of them was this old ideas of all this "biological crud" floating in my eyes that ultimately bias my sense of reality, besides the physics of light travel rendering all of reality to be "relative" and "apparent."

To think I had an idea back in 2005, then partially materialized in the fall of 2007, and then fully manifested as a blog containing a poem and a small set of images is just daunting. What in the hxll has happened all in between? Anyway. It doesn't matter. It's done for now. Off to Mike and Barry and Bubsy and Jules for feedback!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

481. Embracing the Paradox, Compromise, "Back to the Middle" a la Shannon Switzer!

To not embrace a paradoxical, contradictory existence is to deny the notion of being human. Believe it or not, this is me, Victoria, actually trying to be clever. Maybe I can convince my sister to put this quote on her facebook! An old friend said, "Everything in moderation, including moderation itself!"

This list has emerged from several different conversations. First of all, my friend Shannon has been thinking long and hard about writing a book called "Back to the Middle," and we have had long discussions realizing that embracing "the middle" or the "compromise" of what has become "extreme polar opposites" (hence the origins and existence of , really weird, obscure "special interest groups" with a very linear, hedge-hog-like visions for issues that have non-linear multi-dimensionality) (1) requires acknowledgment of paradoxical relationships between these values/ideas and (2) requires "complex, nonlinear, layered understandings of reality" with multiple values stacking on top of each other like a pile of jenga blocks, and therefore requires "layered messaging" when speaking to wide audiences about these issues. This type of thinking requires us to view reality as a "prism" or "gradient" of perspectives rather than the very linear "us versus them"or "both sides of the story," because it turns out that most worldly issues are not two football teams butting heads with each other on a field.

Secondly, I had a reinforcing conversation with a Ph.D. student named Stephanie who rightfully griped about how her writing needed paradoxes and contradictions even though several writing instructors are uncomfortable with that notion. So here I am, my brain filling up with ideas... and now I need to do a blog brain dump.


Beginning a list of paradoxical notions, as well as case studies.

(1). SOCIOECONOMICS AND CONSERVATION. The Paradox = "compassionate murderer" "kind-hearted hunter" aka "sustainable fishing and hunting" aka "take what you need for yourself and your local community, but nothing more" "love and respect the organisms that you need to kill for your own survival" ("go hug a fish and then eat it for dinner!")
The Extremes = (a) profit-driven socioeconomics, pathological killing-overfishing without considering the long-term health and viability of the resource (b) extreme preservation, extreme conservation, don't kill or take fish at all, animal rights activism. Do you enviroettes and peta people EAT any food at all?! Let alone have the RIGHT to eat food based on your campaigns?

(2). SOCIALISM AND CAPITALISM. The Paradox = "political/economic degrees of freedom and constraint, socialist baseline with capitalist frosting and a cherry on top." (this is the United States folks, whether you like it or not!)
The Extremes = (a) buzz words of capitalism, competition, selfishness (b) buzz words of socialism, collaboration, collectivity, lack of individuality

(3). RESPECT A SHARK. The Paradox = "sharks are beautiful, yet fierce creatures that have significant impact on the dynamics of the ocean ecosystem. Conserve the sharks, respect them at a distance, but don't go hug a shark."
The Extremes = (a) excessive mortality of sharks and waste of their meat for delicacies such as shark fin soup in the orient (b) testosterone-infested male stunt men with massive egoes go into the water and get filmed hugging great white sharks (aka Sharkwater)

(4). SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WILDLAND FIRE ECOLOGY. GOOD. BAD. AND IN BETWEEN. The Paradox= "controlled fuel accumulation of chaparral and pine forest such as to prevent large-scale conflagrations in extreme Santa Ana weather... but still... don't go throwing your cigarette butt out the window when driving through the forest!"
The Extremes = (a) "ignitions are the cause of fire" is a very instantaneous, short-term line of thinking; ignitions speak truth for a split second (b) "plants are the cause of fire" is a very long-term perspective revealing that fuel accumulation is a primary driver in terms of the scale of damage constructed by a chaparral/pine forest burn in southern California. (c) "Fire is bad" so suppress all fires and don't allow fires to occur at all in chaparral/pine forest (d) "Fire is good" plants and the landscapes have evolved/adapted to cycles of fire, we need to work with this landscape process such as to create an optimal management plant for the co-existence of humans within wild landscapes

The Paradox = If you can't give yourself a 20-year prison sentence to raising a kid and allowing him/her to fly from the nest as a functional citizen of society, then don't do it.
The Extremes = (a) Pro Life. The Christian Right to Life. All little single-celled humanoid organisms in your body need to live and flourish. They can't be killed even if the person stuck with the baby may not have the ability to raise it for a whole suite of reasons. (b) Pro Abortion. Humans are invasive species. Any human-like creature growing inside me is a malignant tumor in my body and a parasite to society. Massive fetal genocide, given that fetuses are truly "independently living organisms," like whatever.

Most people are not black and white in terms of their views of science and religion. They are hybrids, mixed bags of values that are usually associated with a scientific community or religious group. The sad reality is that the media portrays science and religious groups as polar opposites rather than mixed bags of complex values, and this form of reporting is hindering the progress of "skeptical co-existence of science and religion alongside each other." This issue is a huge can of worms on its own, and I shall pursue it in a later blog.

(7). THE FUNDAMENTAL PARADOX OF HUMAN-ENVIRONMENTAL EXISTENCE. The Extreme = "Net human impact on the environment (usually measured in carbon assessments) can go down to zero. The REALITY = The fact that you exist, occupy space and time, consume resources, and excrete wastes, and potentially even replicate, you as a human are fundamentally impacting and altering the environment, whether you like it or not.

I am starting to realize that the notion of "sustainability" or "the foreseeable short- and long-term co-existence of humans and their Earth habitat as to which they evolved from in the first place" requires "embracing the paradox" in most lines of thinking. Essentially placing reigns on short-term impulsivity, sacrificing for long-term visions and goals. We as humans need resources and tools to survive; it's just that we need to learn to use these resources and simultaneously setting a stock aside for the short- and long-term. In sustainability, it is almost like we need to treat this planet Earth as a "global refrigerator / global cellar" where we as a collective need to find a way to store a major portion of the reserves such as to continue a long-term supply of materials/resources for the perpetuity of ourselves, individually and as a "global society."

Aside. The notion of "regular irregularity" or non-sustaining patterns and cycles.
Okay! How exciting! I'm going to email Shannon this blog! I think she should write a short opinions piece to a newspaper or magazine such as to encourage her and launch this book idea!

KeyWords: embracing the paradox, back to the middle, compro-
mise, moderation, shark, sacrifice of extremism, prism,
compassionate murderer, kind-hearted hunter, socialism,
capitalism, degrees of freedom and constraint, fire ecology,
cause of fire is plants, fire is good-bad, science-religion paradox,
sustainability, global refrigerator-cellar

Saturday, November 14, 2009

479. The MLPA Laugh of the Day::: A Satire of the Excessive Parameterization of Kelp by the Science Advisory Team (SAT) [Go Dave Rudie!]

CAPTION: Bull Kelp! ::: Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Satire of the Science Advisory Team (SAT). The t-shirt design is based on a two-minute public comment of Dave Rudie, who is part of the Regional Stakeholder Group (RSG). This t-shirt is the beginning of my own little MLPA Campaign: instead of "MPAs Work" or "I Love MPAs," I thought up of the "Fish-in-a-Box" Campaign with a simple logo. I needed to incorporate some existentialism and absurdism (not to mention humor!) to the whole process.

Granted the November 10, 2009 Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) meeting (south coast Marine Life Protection Act) is done and gone and probably no longer on top of most people's plates... but I'm still in a mode of reflection.... Well, this process is a good chunk of my Ph.D. thesis... so maybe I can call this "delayed reporting." University research is known to lag behind the rest of societal operations anyway.

I was so impressed by Dave Rudie's 2-minutes, 2-cents worth of a speech (Dave Rudie is an RSG member who participated in the FIC/FIN group I took notes for, FIC = Fisheries Information Committee, FIN = Fisheries Information Network) that I went back to Cal-span ( to try and write down most of his speech, word for word. He illustrated two major points and with cunning wit, which ultimately left the whole room in a bellow of laughter. Too bad the Cal-span footage did not pick up the audio of a light-hearted room amidst a tense, high-stress process. See the quote below that's worth far more than two cents (slightly paraphrased; it's not exact)!

"My name is Dave Rudie, and I represent Catalina Offshore Products. I represent small family fishermen who are out there working on a daily basis. Most fishermen that sell to me are day-boat fishermen. They go out to catch sea urchin or lobster. And these are the men and women who are going to be the most impacted by these marine protected areas. They have fully engaged in the process. They are not opposed to the process. They participated. They unilaterally support Option 4 [San Diego?]. I undersand that that's been somewhat taken off the table, but that's what the hard-working fishermen support. Option 4. They support it because it meets the science guidelines best as we were given to us. We were told to protect all the habitats, not just the three forms of kelp habitats--

"Two of my sea urchin fishermen work in the northern part of the La Jolla area in Option 1. That northern part has a large population of sea urchins just outside the kelp bed. The divers wait until the sea urchins get to the edge of the kelp to harvest these sea urchins. If the divers are not allowed to harvest those sea urchins, these urchins will likely march to the klp as they have in many places in San Diego in the past. These sea urchins will not only eat the average kelp, but the maximum kelp, the persistent kelp, and the gap kelp--they would also eat the quality kelp. They would eat all kinds of kelp as the sea urchins march through that kelp bed.

Work Group 1 was supposed to come up with middle ground solutions. A win-win situation. Not a win-lose situation. Option 1--the old Proposal 3--is a win-lose. Win for the preservation community and lose for the fishing community. I am 100% against Option 1."

In the speech above, Dave Rudie harps on two main issues: (1) he represents small family fishermen, and these are the people who will be most impacted by the marine reserves, and (2) the excessive parameterization of kelp by the Science Advisory Team (SAT) had reached the brink of absurdism, and hence set up the joke of all jokes of everyone's last chance to speak before the BRTF made their decisions on an array of marine protected areas (MPAs). Mic Kronan, the harbormaster of Santa Barbara, also emphasized the holistic relationship between marine conservation and marine management, and over the course of the MLPA process, it seemed like marine / fisheries management fell into the limelight. Some speeches were conceptual and ideological... and some speeches were quite practical. I think Dave's was the most memorable of the ideological speeches.

I'll be putting up the maps (Option 1-2-3-4 references) in a near-future blog.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

477. The Mysterious Grant from the Bren School, UC Santa Barbara... Case Resolved! THANK YOU!!!

I bet this will happen once and only once in my life, but sometimes little magic wands and tooth fairies do exist in the psychologically barbaric, cold-shoulder universe of large-scale university bureaucracy... and bureaucracy in general....

Take for a example... a grant... I received... that I only knew about... since two days ago... through a phone call with Corlei... the graduate student liaison at Bren.... Ya, like WTF! Pardon my crass language, even guised in acronyms! Before yesterday, this is what I knew: someone in the Graduate Division waived their magic wand around September 20 or so and waived my fees and tuition. Wow. That's weird. The billing note stated it was a "graduate internship" or something. Uh-huh. Okay. What the hoo haa hay is this? Whatever. I didn't pursue this any further (I just thought maybe this was an administrative error and that ignorance should be bliss in this circumstance). I just secretly cried with joy to know that I had health insurance for the quarter.... And I still took out two loans at first... I call them "Obama loans"... both of them from the Federal Government. It's beautiful money and it's worth borrowing.... I'd do anything for Obama! Like, SERIOUSLY! Then it was down to one direct, subsidized loan....

And so, I basically had the "hxll month" of October in which I was non-stop living without any down time to reflect. I was "holding my mental breath," and in all honesty, I feel that I need to hide away and "puke" for a little while. So, here I was... in Riverside... and I called Corlei because I had a couple of concerns in terms of my interactions with certain professors... one is not an "open, transparent" relationship in which I can be completely uncensored and revelatory... and the other relationship is concerning simply because this professor is on sebatical... so I feel completely horrible and guilty for bothering him. And so Corlei pops the question, "Did you get your check?" And I was like, "What check?"And she proceeded to explain to me how Dean Haston sent me an award letter about a month ago, stating that I received a "block grant" (?) from Bren that would help with tuition, health insurance, and basic living expenses. And I was like, "WHAT?!" Corlei advised me to pick up the grant/check as soon as possible and then we set up an appointment for November 16. Huh. Weird. Plain flat out weird.

So, the first question is... how did I feel (Yes, oh yes! I am a psychologist to myself!)? I felt stunned, but in a dulled way. I didn't jump up and down, as if I received a National Science Foundation fellowship, like I did back in April of 2003 (stone ages, I tell ya). I didn't feel like I was struck by lightning, but I kinda sorta felt I won some really crooked lottery game. Sort of, that was only 1% of my feelings. The truth is, in the past year, I have been a "shadow of Bren." A rather elusive creature, one who lurks in the building at night or during weekends. One who goes in and out for brief meetings and then splits to work in the blank slate environment of Kinkos (over a festid, library). I don't know. I've been feeling like some vile, base graduate student organism, even more loathsome than any slimy or scaly reptile, perhaps equally as hideous as that vertebrate parasitoid Alien in the Alien-series movie. Why? Because I'm just this little "kicking-n'-screaming rebel from CCS," a flat out stubborn b#@* about pursuing "environmental media" or the synthesis of science and multi-media storytelling to more holistically explore and address coupled-human-environmental systems. I always saw myself as a "problem child," "a muckracker" to the Bren community, simply because I was pushing boundaries of their definitions of "interdisciplinary" (I mean, physically, not lipservice-acally). As a symbolic experience of interaction, I remember my first day of school at Bren back in the Fall of 2008, while we grad students were all introducing ourselves to each other, and when I said "I'm Victoria. Environmental Media Ph.D." I saw the eyes of Dr. Keller (water quality expert?) bulge out, his brows elevate almost as far as they could biomechanically lift. And he seemed shocked, but in a pleasant sense, transmitting a telepathic signal of 'What are you doing HERE? But here you are, so welcome aboard.' with his gestalt sequence of succeeding facial expressions. *Sigh.* By that point I felt like a timid mouse that came out to see some light, 'cuz they said they'd be some cheez for me to eat.... Now maybe I'm this rat in the shadows. Anyhow, nevertheless, my advisor Oran. "an intellectual fishermen who has beckoned me to cast my web long and far into the nooks and crannies of this UCSB campus" has been so supportive in my experiences thus far. But I know deep in my mind and my heart, that the only way I'm going to survive in this community for FIVE LONG YEARS is (1) TANGIBLE PRODUCTIVITY. "Don't talk. Just do. And deliver final projects without necessarily anyone's expectations of them. Leave a trail of tangible, physical work." and (2). EXTERNAL VALIDATION. "Seek external validation and build communities outside of Bren such that when it comes to be any form of Academic Judgment Day, Bren faculty cannot deny that I had received official acknowledgments from external academic parties." The goal is to leave the Bren experience accomplishing my personal goals and not having a single professor shake his or her finger and scold me "YOU CAN'T DO THAT!" simply because it hasn't been done before in such a such a new way, even though it makes complete common sense to pursue it (I have dealt with that mentality for close to 6 long months last year, and I am FED UP with that!). It's the most HORRID, wretched experience for a professor to tell me "you can't do that!" Professors, especially those on your committee have some level of mastermindful control over you and the contents of your head, and so it's really important for the professor NOT TO PUT YOUR MIND IN A PRISON. Your committee needs to guide you, let you grow, and if they need you to specialize, they need to be expert tricksters to make a graduate student's head become self-filtered, self-focused....

So, here I am, strategically trying to carve out an academic existence as an "environmental media oddball" with obscure strategies. And here I WAS, all summer of 2009, flipping out about 12 times, surviving through five more overt panic attacks (about 1.5 weeks of wasted time, mind, and energy) simply because (1) my NSF fellowship was about to be over (2) I've been stood up from three different departments in concern of TAships, and many TAships are being reduced to 25% (3) the University of California is financially crumbling top-down, thanks Mr. Swartzebooger, Yudolf and the executives rest (4) I was going to have to familiarize myself with the student loan syndrome.... So... I have psychologically suffered all summer... and the last month I have learned to live "cut down" and "more frugally," and suddenly... to realize... that I received a GRANT from Bren?

By this point, I was crying. Some tears in my eyes are about to appear right now. My psychology is a wreck, and I have a few more months to stay floating before I go financially on the "negative side" of student loans. Taking student loans though was a huge benefit because it made me realize (1) that I was truly motivated to the very core to pursue my road in environmental media and (2) that I will have to truly start considering the notion of "financially floating" when pursuing this Ph.D. track. It has been a good month in that sense. This whole "mental readjustment" to real-world finances.

The money I received from National Science Foundation was very impersonal. Some random assortment of scientists made some decision to give me money because I was some undergrad who already knew how to scientifically write and design my own plant vegetation experiments. I never put a face to the money; it just came flying over from Washington DC and it was coming from people's taxpayers dollars. NOTE: I want to make sure that taxpayers realize that they are truly investing in a good resource when they are investing in maintaining a minimal salary for my existence. I can tell great stories that might help them "laugh, then think," then break their routine and try something excitingly, and fearfully new.

But now, the money came from a "more local source." It came from the Bren community. And it's a much different sensation. Deeming myself as an "academic outcast," or an "academic who has a hard time being with other academics, and likes to bathe herself in the real world," I am now starting to question this identity, this self-perceived or self-constructed label of "outcast in the shadows." On a very fundamental level, though environmental media is not a mainstream pursuit at UC Santa Barbara, I somehow felt... appreciated for existing. Appreciated for pursuing this road... appreciated for whining and griping and kicking and screaming and transferring three different schools... all for just to follow my core dreams? Appreciated... appreciated.... I'm not sure about "accepted," but at least appreciated. Appreciated enough such that I can survive at least one more quarter without going under financially.

Upon learning of this grant, I went to Santana's mom-n-pop chain Mexican restaurant of the Inland Empire and ordered a $6.50 tray of chicken nachos and enjoyed 2/3 of it in the wee hours of a chilly-desert Rivesidian night. The other 1/3 went to my father's lunch the next day. I wished I shared the nachos with Jules and my family, but they were all asleep. I told Jules I will buy him a small carrot cake for his retroactive birthday (he was impressed that I received a grant and I didn't even have to catch a single fish! He works so hard wakes up 3am in the morning almost every day to go catch lobster and fish; I feel lazy and wimpy). I will take my sister on a boat ride for Christmas, and I will terrorize my mother and father with whacky presents from the 99 cents store for the holidays. My mother was terrified and she told me she will give me a list of things she wanted, just to prevent my giving her a venus fly trap or a plastic tube of candy with a twirling plastic monkey on top. I must celebrate! One more quarter without debt!

At the core of my visceral existence, there is a primal, desperate character of Victoria that screams "I am a stubborn b#@* and don't even think about trying to budge me from where I'm heading." This visceral self is an unstoppable, super-muscular, reptilian godzilla type that can't deal with prison bars or walls in front of her line of intended action. So, I've been learning to live with this visceral self since age 19 or so.... and yes, this primal, desperate Victoria has been taking the more "emotionally sensitive, rational Victoria" on such interesting adventures. Sheesh!

Thank you, Bren.

I will give Dean Haston a copy of "The Mountain's Last Flower" and inform her that I can do a small run print of my work the last year or so (poetry, short stories, novella, film), for exposure around the Bren community. It would be nice to get other people's feedback. Especially since they're a part of my school.

I need to figure out how to be notified about important issues outside the realm of email, because I truly have ECP or electronocommunicatiphobia.

This human society is Biologically Incorrect! Victoria's Mental Ecosystem to be continued... one more quarter... without being in debt....

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

476. Fragments of "Legacy" Poem Written Back in Fall of 2006 As Positively Influenced at LAP Records in Riverside, California

Back in Fall of 2006, or the beginning of my "Medieval Dark Ages" year at the "deathly age of 25--dearest me, the Quarter Life Crisis!" I fell off my own log and decided I wanted to record a song at a music studio... as I ultimately wanted to learn how to compose, record, and mix-n-master my own songs. I fell into the hands of LAP Records, a studio that was about five miles away from home. Though I had to leave the studio due to some awkward transactions that I found to be violating my own personal space, I did learn a few things, and at one point I was inspired to write a melodic poem entitled "Legacy," which was also partly influenced by the studio owner's creation of jazz music.

After reading the poem again... nearly three years later... I found most of the stanzas to be preachy, cliche, and overall unpoetic. Only two stanzas remain standing and worth revealing:


To be alive

and to know

that you're alive

is the greatest thing

you could ever


To carve a new trail

beyond your own home,

beyond your own life,

beyond your own space,

beyond your own time.

Referring to quotes from the metaphor essay and CHESS Book of Poetry. Shifting Baseline Syndrome. Once again. "One of the greatest dilemmas of modern environmental problems is the individual human's failed ability to assign and imagine a role--a sense of self and place--in systems of greater scales beyond one's own immediate needs, surroundings, and lifespan."

I guess the "good news" is that I walked away from LAP Records learning how to record, mix-master my music with the most basic system: Yamaha touch sensitive keyboard from Costco, Samsun microphone, a really crxppy computer soundcard in this Hewlett Packard PC, and a really crxppy software program called "Sonar Home Studio" which has more than enough quirks in it.... Music creation is a whole other can of worms. I'll open this can of worms... or barrel of snakes (the music industry is the King of Corruption after all!) another time.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

475. Poem Entitled "Untended Cemeteries" Revealed Through Mike Davis Writing and Landscapes Class at University of California, Riverside

The PDF of the poem "Untended Cemeteries" can be found here:

It's funny to think I wrote this poem back in June of 2009 but I wasn't really excited, nor eager to share it with anyone, perhaps because I sincerely felt that I as the author am expecting the reader to be in tune with environmental details. Perhaps because I am expecting some form of natural science background such that the reader would appreciate the comparisons and metaphors that unite the entire streamline of poetic thought. In short, the formation of this poem began when my housemates Karl and Kyle asked me to "prune and clean around this tropical plant in the dark, back corner of our backyard." Boy, I didn't know I was going to delve into a rabbithole, physical and mental! Apparently this tropical plant with extremely large leaves and very sticky sap/xylem/phloem in its branches had not been tended to for at least 3 years. There had been an extensive accumulation of layers upon layers of dead leaves, tangles of rope-like vines, all coated with damp-goopy dust-muck, with bonus strata of spider webs with no orderly shapes.

That was it. That was the ultimate spark. My mind went down the rabbithole. The theme was DEATH, more specifically HOW ORGANISMS RELATE TO THE DEAD BIOMASS of their own kind, humans included. I have come to realize throughout all these ecosystems I have been in outside of the human world, most organisms are pretty sloppy about their tending to their dead. I was particularly shocked by the "cemeteries of living among the dead" in kelp forests--living EATING the dead... cannibalism... how unethical! Biomass is recycled in the ocean, largely, seemingly through the profession of "scavenger" and in terrestrial plant ecosystems, recycling relationships between living and dead seem to be more "biogeochemical," in which there is decomposition and other mediating abiotic factors aiding the process (e.g. wildfire).

And then I make reference to "frugal" burials as to which my best Chinese friend Talei referred me to--how several people in China are buried face-down in mudswamps in faraway mountains. And speaking of mudswamps... such an environment led to my reference to the very recent discovery of a mummified baby mammoth, who was presumed to have croaked in swamp like environment. Sometimes taphonomy creates LAGERSTATTEN MOSQUITO-AMBER-SAP CIRCUMSTANCES in which a fossil almost serves to be a CRYSTAL BALL to the past (not included in poem, dangit).

And then my mind drifts into HUMAN ABSURDITY--"tended cemeteries" within our lifespan, in which emotions and memories run rampant and wild in our heads, and so we don't cannibalize our dead grandparents, and laying them to rest in a box or a pile of ashes at some tree is essentially a form of our own "resting of our minds, our souls" through the passing of a "loved one." It seems from here, four options can happen: (1) if you're in a graveyard, you will be dug up by anthropologists a few hundred years from now, or by aliens a few million years from now (when all emotions and memories no longer exist in any living head, depends on your degree of preservation, must choose wisely your "natural burial site" some good basin with rapid deposition of sediments, a geologist would know), might end up in a museum, cool (2) you might instantly become mummified and be a part of the Bodyworks show (not included in poem) (3) if you're cremated, you become "ecologically reincarnated" into the system from a biogeochemical perspective (I referred to ecological reincarnation only once in Blog 350 (which included sketch descriptions of my grandfather's passing). My father told me that Ray's and Marion's (my grandparents) ashes are mostly made of calcium and they will dissolve in the winter rains and snow fast enough.

It's funny. I wrote this poem before my immediate family (Bub, Mumsy, JenJen) had a formal memorial for my grandfather Ray (up in the sugar pine behind the cabin) and grandmother Marion (by the incense cedar to the right side of the cabin). I'm sure if I wrote the poem afterwards, I may have approached it a little differently... or even added a little more information. An affiliated poem I wrote post-grandparents-memorial is "Death of Anonymous Meaning" (Blog 453).

A couple of other points I didn't include in the poem. (1) I removed a stanza about the "efficiency of ecological reincarnation." I would feel good feeling instantly useful to the rest of the ecosystem as soon as I croaked. (2) My housemate Kyle brought up the point of "untended nurseries." I think from his point of view, Kyle was emphasizing the notion that organisms just "accept the environment around them as a default, a given. Organisms in general don't "tend the environment," or at least at the SCALE that humans do. I feel that we humans are discrediting other organisms in terms of their degree of "maintenance and constructionism" of their environments. Other organisms are by default "landscape planners" and "engineers" of their environments, intentionally or unintentionally. Default examples are primates using stick tools, beavers building dams, birds building nests, most mammals rearing and tending to their young, ants building underground colonies, gophers building tunnel networks. All of these activities require construction and maintenance. And by default, an organism occupying space, consuming resources, pooping out wastes, and replicating, is BY DEFAULT, engineering their environments. Simple biological existence requires engineering, with varying degrees of tending. So? I have not been motivated to write an "untended nurseries" poem, even after three months time. Oh well.

So, I'm posting this poem simply because I was so stimulated when being immersed in Dr. Mike Davis' "landscapes and writing" graduate creative writing course at the University of California, Riverside. It's tragic that I didn't have a chance to attend the class earlier, but at least I'm being exposed now. I was fairly quiet with the class. I was, as Jules would say, "Reading the Conditions," figuring out the composition of students of the class. And I DO SAY, I AM IMPRESSED. THIS TRULY IS A GRADUATE COURSE. This writing is by far a step beyond the writing I have been exposed to at the undergraduate Creative Studies courses I've sat in at UC Santa Barbara. What a fresh breath of mental air. Good brain pollution this evening. Very good. No one really seemed to mind my presence. Diverse group in the class. I am amazed by the use of humor, satire, wit by most everyone. I was more impressed by the male writers than female writers thus far. One piece stood out fairly well as an overall stand alone of all factors, substance + consistent style; it was a modern description of Venice Beach. Another article was about how some angry dude who was dumped by some ex-girlfriend bxtch and was therefore angrily traveling along the Route 66. Though he had adjectivious supersaturation, I thought the ex-girlfriend added solid motivation to the story, and he had some brilliant anthropomorphizing of his technologies--his beaten up truck and his cell phone. Three brilliant metaphors of the evening: (1) describing the Missouri landscape as "a pop-up book without the splendor." (2) describing Route 66 as the "birth canal for the west." (3) identifying insects on windshield wipers and car windows based on "splatter patterns" talk about hilarious taphonomy! studying the death of organisms!

I noticed how I felt and where I was at in terms of "environmental writing" and other people's baselines. I am beginning to notice "states of consciousness" of my inner thoughts. The state of highest consciousness is when my mind creates a system and a story that is a completely alternate reality--which lives up to Picasso's "art is a lie to help us realize the truth" comment. So, my mind has currently "left this Planet Earth" into these alternate realms of higher consciousness. So any form of description of an outing, like, "I went to this street in Fontana and saw this and that and here's a sprit of satirical humor, and then I called my friend and went to that street that had this landfill with a flower on top and it was profound, and here's another interpretational sprit." My writing was like that--an inventory of everyday events with sparse interpretation--that was back when I was 18-19 years old, but I'm still seeing this pattern among a few students in the class--they're still very "inventory-descriptional" with their writings, and perhaps overloaded with adjectives (which makes it pseudointerpretational). I guess that's called "flowery writing." It made me come to realize that from age 18 to today, my "final draft writing" has become more and more "interpretational" than descriptional. And it compounds; it's additive. So each piece of writing, seems to become more and more dense. And when I have a story still rooted to planet Earth, like The Mountain's Last Flower, I packed it with as much surrealistic metaphor as possible, within means of controlled exaggeration, of course! My head is in such an alterate universe that my capacity to "retain memory of regional details, like names of plants and birds and sedimentary rocks" has been in this "unretrievable" dormant section of my mind.

An older, trendy-looking man sitting right next to me shared Mike's Syllabus and Basic Definitions for the course. The first few lines in the syllabus prompted my reference to Untended Cemeteries. If you dug underground from where you were standing, what would you find? With our shoves, we are digging our way home... in the landscapes our minds, our hearts. Some themes that kicked in right away: (1) most creative writers are character and plot driven, the setting sucks "lazy, thin descriptions" and non-interactive (2) "landscape" is a central word and basically goes based on my premise "the environment is a construct of your mind" (3) landscape ecology is the investigation of "what is" (e.g. Environmental Impact Reports) and landscape planning is the imagination of "what ought to be" based on "what is" (e.g. Bulldozing and House Building) aka "purposeful intervention" or "engineering." (ecology more "objective" analysis "science" and planning is more "normative" value-ridden synthesis "art") (4) One thing NOT talked about is the "INNER LANDSCAPE" the interaction between the "inner landscape" emotions/rationale and the "outer landscape." (5) What is valued and appreciated in the class is predominantly the NOVEL and the UNEXPECTED, and CONSISTENCY-CONTINUITY-WITH PRECISION space-time-emotions-rationale. (6) Balancing personal experience with universal truths. (7) Visuals and words go hand-in-hand, writing a story is like the making of a painting. The Matrix of the Mind. Mapping Language on Landscapes (see this BLOG and this BLOG) (AND PLEASE SEE THIS BLOG).

I talked to my father El Bubsy this morning--I was so excited and enthusiastic about class last night that I walked around a bunch of streets with just my socks (no shoes), so they ended up acquiring a lot of dirt. I didn't talk much in class but my personal experience was that in the beginning of things, especially in high school, the concept of the "environment" and "nature" was some form of non-interactive "static backdrop." One big amorphous blob "out there" that had no inner personal connectivity. And over time, by hanging out with my dad and learning ecology and evolution at UC Santa Barbara, this big, static outer "nature blob" started to become this dynamic, interactive system, that had connections, relationships, interactivity with my own self and sense of existence. I started to acquire this "Matrix of the Mind: Mapping Language on Landscapes" type of thinking, I shut down my language brain and started to re-describe my sense of reality from a visual, cognitive mapping point of view. My resolution of the outer world and its connections to my inner universe started to become more and more connected and intertwined, highly resolved... the layers of the land, litho, hydro, bio... and the anthro world for sure... this whole matrix of interacting variables.... NOW... I just have to DRAW this sense of personal evolution... that's all.

Personal thoughts that came up:
(1) diffusion of social responsibility, viewing other humans as objects versus subjects (e.g. riding bike across campus at UC Riverside)
(2) evolution by collective action problems, Gaia-Medea-Phoenix effects (Blog 424)
(3) environmental CONTINGENCY of human behavior
(4) living in a Truman Show Bubble "eusocial ecological niche space" or log-log scale of reality
(5) inherited versus acquired traits, Darwinian versus Lamarckian evolution, have versus have-nots, people inherit property or resources versus earn and acquire them (Blog 336)
(6) the "shifting baseline syndrome" the notion that people live in a place without any context of this place's history or natural history is more so an "American construct;" whereas the GREEK CONSTRUCT of my mother is "I know my Greek history; it's so much to know and remember that I hate it all together."
(7) Words have a "usual context" and connotation in the English language, and you have to work very hard to take this word out of its usual context and make it meaningful and applicable to the story at hand (Barry Spacksisms).
(8) Relationships between setting, character, and plot. Most of the time the setting is close to non-existent, very immediate-proximate-surfacial "thin description" effect, and it's mostly the interaction between characters to drive plot. And then you have Cormac McCarthy... you have thicker, juicier descriptions of landscapes, but to what degree to they INTERACT/INFLUENCE the character and plot? Horses are very important in the film, and they essentially become "characters" because of the degree of interactivity. The highest degree of relationship-interactivity of setting is that a particular set of elements interact SO MUCH to a point in which these elements become major "characters" and agents that drive the plot (and this is what I strive for).

As I started to read Mike Davis' hand out on a brief history of the envisioned "agriculture/citrus and gardens" of southern California throughout the 1900s (early 1900s), I really started to see the synthetic, nonlinearity of Mike's mind. He perceives the "city" as an organism, a collectivity, a higher level of organization beyond individual human agents. A human coral reef, eh?. Where does this city-organism get its air? water? (Los Angeles River, Eastern Sierra, Colorado River) food supply? How does it settle (instead of being vagrant larvae)? And expand and grow, like a kid who drinks too much milk? And how does it REGULATE its growth? (More so a LACK of regulation... sigh). And this metaphor is extremely powerful--I even use it myself. Quite a bit. There are strong parallels in this "superorganismic quality" of cities, but not ENTIRELY parallel. So the CITY as an ORGANISM shall remain as a METAPHOR, and not a THEORY.

WHAT I AM FINDING MYSELF DOING HERE IS BEING EXPOSED TO NATURAL SCIENCES AS MY BASELINE, AS I AM BEING EXPOSED TO SOCIAL SCIENCE WORDS, I KEEP TRYING TO FIND NATURAL SCIENCE EQUIVALENTS. FOR EXAMPLE... WORDS TRANSCENDING NATURAL-SOCIAL SCIENCES. I wrote a lot about this in Blog 424, based on my experiences and observations of academic behavior at the Origins conference at Arizona State University. And here we go again... Cool word here: HEGEMONY is the dominance of one group over another, like IMPERIALISM (like overlapping lichens growing and competing for space on rocks; ha ha lichens and coral reefs are being hegemonious and imperialistic amongst each other, what a riot!). INCUMBENCY is prevailing spatial and temporal dominance of an entity on the landscape. Like bivalves and brachiopods. And so the list shall keep growing.... It's all back to the commonality of photoshopping reality and the adaptive grid model....

Another running theme of Mike Davis' course is how individuals establish IDENTITY relative to their environments/landscapes. Landscapes and identity, thank you! There are certain professions in which the landscape identifies you tremendously: being a rancher, cowboy, and fishermen for example. What else?

Some quotes:

"To be alive / and to know that you're alive / is the greatest thing / you could realize."
(fragment of Vic's Legacy poem)

"To carve a new trail / beyond your own home / beyond your own life / beyond your own space / beyond your own time." (fragment of Vic's Legacy poem)

"There's a mean bxtch at the bottom of every man's heart." (Mike Davis, in class)

"It's a classic trait to use 'the other sex' as a prime mover for human behavior." (Mike Davis, in class)

"Love is an American construct. The French and the Chinese don't believe in love." (Thank goodness I'm not the only one!)

"The fundamental principle of feminism. 'Women don't need men.'" (Mike Davis, in class, oh, now I get it!)

"Fear. It's an addiction." (Karl Thompson, geologist extraordinaire, exposing the roots of the male mind, and how I discovered that I was a "conservative adventurist")

"In American Literature, men are portrayed to operate mechanically: thinking [linearly?] with their brains and their gonads. British literature is different... most of the playwrights were closeted gays."

"I represent myself by editing the minds and lives of others." Victoria, the Savage Idea Thief and Film Documentarian. "What?! I end up being other cool people's secretary, because they ain't secretaries to themselves!"

Well, what can I say? Mike's course is pricking a lot of "dormant" ideas that need some tending to. I am excited to finally revisit and complete my thoughts... and one day weave them together into my next layer/level of coherence.

Environmental Writing/Ecopistemology Related Materials. See a Blog from Shelly Lowenkopf's Writing Group (Lion's Den) in Blog 283.

Key words: environmental writing, landscapes and writing, ecopistemology, poem, untended cemeteries, ecological reincarnation, life and death, phoenix, lagerstatten, human absurdity, ecological engineering, constructionism, Mike Davis, scale, brain pollution, landscape, landscape ecology, urban planning, landscape design, normative, unexpected, consistency, precision, matrix of the mind, mapping language on landscapes, Shelly Lowenkopf, nature, landscapes static, dynamic, city as an organism, natural-social science language equivalence, hegemony, imperialism, incumbency, landscapes and identity, identity and environment