31 Mar 2008, 9:48am

Night Dreams about Strange Things

Uncommon sort of rite of spring and the open mic fellow, Ryan, plucking sweet notes on a ukulele and then singing to it lyrics of zombies, brain rhymes with brain. Strange, funny and wondrous. Dusty Owl is often apt to break out of the same-same day and gets a little social in.

[The shadows from lights make many directions of shadows of towels.]

My brain seems to want to ramp up speed over these last few days. It’s like supervising a hyperactive child. It’s productive in a way. It’s useful. I write a lot. I can absorb a lot. I sleep heavily. My dreams are vivid.

Last night I was visiting a family in Europe, in a culture where there is the understanding that at age 18 the girl is to have lined up her prospects. She moves out of parental home that day, the day I was there as it happened. She was willowy with long black hair and bangels that dangled against the counter. She was not to marry who she moves in with, but to investigate her first pick of 3. One was to not overcommit; she lives according to the preordained schedule, 1/3 of the time at her grandparents house, 1/3 of the time in college residence and 1/3 of the time with the potential beloved. They try each other out for 6 months and then switch, with no weight or less, if it doesn’t work. The logistics of term and mapping up confounded me. If the whole society picked an arbitrary day, surely the swaps would be simpler. She had the map of months on her mother’s kitchen counter, an orange-yellow for the blocks of time at her grandparent’s. She was never to come back to the family home. What if she had no living grandparents. I was as full of questions as she was of blank looks at me that I would find this strange.

And another dream was a field-sized beach with a low tide. There were nests of small round beige stones here and there across the red sand ripples, one with a porcelaine door knob washed in from the sea. Towards the water in the whipping wind there was settlement on the mudflats, of sorts. One man was in a cage. It ws perhaps 6 feet high by 10 feet by 10 feet, the bars square metal, painted yellow. It all covered with a tarp blowing in the wind. He was furious because he earned his right for this meditation space. He was to be the ascetic but his brother came clanging on his lock, asking for a time to meditate in the family cage. The first brother had burned out and lost his business. He needed the refuge, and a bending of the rules of inheritance. The first man, caged in grey beard, was to leave the silence and solitude, trek to the town and set up a business to support his brother’s meals while he recovered his center.

A third dream I was a cat burgler, trying to hide on the chandelier 3 stories above the floor because I had set off the alarms in the museum while my partner and I were attempted to cut loose the antique hand-knitted carpets and roll them and take them out in the night. The one that was a dusty blue, held up by thumb tacks, was the one which broke the infrared beams. Security are coming in from below and I hope that they think the thumbtacks just gave way and that they won’t notice to 3 rugs already missing.

A fourth dream I was back at the limestone cliffs that seems to be becoming a recurrent setting. There are caves and there are conchs on the beach and in places the cliff, with grassy top, has sheared and the grey and dun stone breaks away exposing veins of amethyst. One cave in this outback, where there are no real roads or any settlement, is a cavern of agate and crystals, with one small plywood booth inside the return wall of stone. There is a perky, hopeful looking youth to sell souvenirs, despite it being on a the top of a cliff without even so much as footpaths that prove it has been frequented. Later in the dream there is a lake, a lagoon and docks that are punky with dry rot and a chalet on pontoons in the lake. The house is filled with dust and cobwebs and junk as if the person hoards from garbage pickup. There are narrow cluttered paths between the stacks of everything from buoys to broken dolls and milk crates of records. Pans are piled in the sink with a rancid smell. The woman wears loud costume jewelry, says hers is a ski lodge bed and breakfast but the weather is tropical.

Quote: “if I didn’t take some pleasure/ in going hungry, I would/ be a clerk, by now” – Gregory Betts, Jan 8, the cult of david thompson

30 Mar 2008, 9:24am
General Link Dump

Don’t-Miss Misc Links

Disconnected jottings from what have caught my eye over the last week or two.

Cin’s at a crossroads, to blog, pause or stop.

Mileva Marić the brain behind Einstein’s.

Referring to the futility of expecting what some people (such as a mother or a boyfriend) just cannot give you, she said, “You can’t buy cabbages in a shoe store.” – Marguerite

I am Joe’s functioning label explaining Aspergers.

“rationalism, intended to banish superstition and fear, has instead removed one of the most effective weapons against anxiety, namely religious faith and ritual.” – anxiety in search of a cause

Bun-Bun‘s minor characters want time in the sun.

[anti-] Facebook anthem

Wonderful story of how to treat your mugger at NPR.

Leopard frogs can freeze solid and thaw and go on [via Presurfer]

nerve signals to converted to synth speech [youtube] before voiced to be used as an aid to people with Lou Gerhrig’s

xkcd’s music-loving advice

Gay scientists isolate the Christianity gene

Savage Chickens – when hearing out, not opposing playing along makes matters worse

Love the etymology of that one, Sike: sike: scottish, a gully or ditch, esp. one that fills with water after a heavy rain. Also, syke.

[Origin: 1300–50; ME < ON sīk small stream, ditch, pond, c. OE sīc (now sitch) rill, MLG sīk puddle; akin to OHG seih urine, OE sicerian to ooze] shrug, posture, and Immediacy.

“Those most easily offended are often the most insecure. – politics FAQ

Scorecard’s dimming for a bit

“I listened to the waves until my ears were filled with salt.” – Jason Stumpf‘s line from a poem at Typomag.

On lucid dreaming: Why meddle and take away the brain’s unconscious finding its own solutions by conscious mind thinking it knows better. The verbal mind is such a colonialist.

“Don’t write what you know; write what you’re passionate about.” – Barbara Gowdy [via a 12 or 20 questions]

Dialogues founder in the wrong modality, can gallop in one that matches.

Jabba the Hut for a float

“step aside, life is short but wide” – Thomai

Back to the art of folding waxed paper? or something reusable?
Bisphenol A
is a hormone disruptor, primarily used to make polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers, plastic food wrap, and epoxy resins that are used to line metal cans for food, such as cans of soup.
[via Boyfriendly Cooking]

28 Mar 2008, 12:25pm
Glad Game Poets

Glad Game: Communication

Glad for the Vinyl Cafe. Good laughs.

I heard Serena Ryder there on CBC, lovely guitar work. She was born in 83 and she has 5 albums under her belt. From a vanity point of view, at least I’m not quite old enough to be her mom.

The Factory Reading last night was fun. It was with 2 writers, Naomi Guttman and Mike Blouin. Guttman who won and was short listed for poetry for her last book is back to publishing after a 16 year pause between titles. She read from Wet Apples, White Blood, poems of lactation, nursing and raising children over the centuries. The images are dense, in a good sense. One striking one was a guide to a pregnant woman in the 14th century. The fetus knows what the mom sees and so she should avoid anger, the diseased, surround herself with sparkling koi listening for the copper coins, and peacocks. One must have peacocks. Another poem dealt with the joy of a lively boy, sickly in infancy, and poem of the unique bond between wet nurse of an ancient Egyptian king, him closer to her, than to his crown or his absent god-parents.

Mike Blouin who said he’s read to audiences ranging from 2 people to 300 this year quipped, as his wife says after 20 years of marriage, “it is what it is”. He read a bit from his I’m not Going to Lie to You book of poetry. Fav poem of what he read? 10 kinds of laughter. It had a more conversational tone (than Guttman’s poems) and he read with a great storytelling voice. He also gave us (about 20 there) a sneak-peak excerpt from his novel to be finished next. He says he has 20 pages left to write. It sure seems polished with a gentle sense of humor, comic asides and a compassionate sort of story of a coming of age of a boy.

Glad Amanda did a post on the reading too.

Glad for clever people. Like the writers of the one-foot-stuck-out-of-the-page dark comedy, Waiter where the characters come petitioning the writer for better material. Got that to look forward to.

Glad to hear there might be a quarterly extension of Fireborn.

The place is a mess of moved furniture but it’s a good thing. Some of the masking is done and paint is being applied.

Updates are done. Income taxes are e-filed. We get money back. The quarterly (or so) updates are done on my poetry draft statistics. My bio page is updated. (Funny, the older I get, the shorter it gets. Is this a variation on the “if I had more time, I’d write less” rule?)

Very good week for poetry.

I got my copy of Out of Light by Joseph Massey (Kitchen Press). God, such delicate and spare lines. I’m rereading already. The newest issue of the Comstock Review came. And I got a couple directions of offers of books to review. That could be fun.

Glad for recipes and the zen of cooking, (om, om at the range)

Poetry Link: wow poem, and the poet of glass vase is in grade 3, part of the WITS program.

News Link: End of an era, no more Canadian Tire Catalogues (but what will mom put on the toilet reservoir?).

Light Link: Emergency Spanish Phrases [via NFORD]

7 Things You Don’t Need to Know

I was wondering whether to blog today. (I seem to have that question more frequently lately.) Then I found I had been tagged.

7 things you don’t need to know about me by T.

(Huh, just the sort of kick in the pants to overshare that I need? )

I don’t think I can be as articulate in anecdotes as her but I like the idea of things that come out of left field.

Open tag, grab it if you want it.

  1. To go to the countryside in Morocco, we had to get tropical disease immunizations. I was very proud that I actually watched the needle go in and didn’t faint. I informed the doctor of how good I was being. I expected a sucker, but being over 30, apparently that’s not done. Rats.
  2. I once went to give blood. By the time the wait was over, I got to the onerous list of health questions and being shut in a tiny cubicle with a terse stranger. I was getting pretty anxious. By the time I got to the donation chair, I already knew more than I wanted to about all the ways blood could be taken, and then I saw a needle. I was distinctly unsure of how well this would go.

    I was starting to pale when the cotton swab came out. Apparently I radically color shifted and looked faint as blood started coming out of the needle into the little sack and som kind lady said, not today and led me to cookies.

    I decided maybe I’d be best helping blood services by doing cookies-end-of-thing instead of the blood-end-of-things. I served drinks and cookies to lovely people for a few weeks. As much as I want to do social good, somewhere with a less antiseptic smell would be a better match.

  3. How about a general blood and needles theme? Somewhere around ’93, maybe ’92, I was chopping veggies in the kitchen, got distracted and brought the blade down on the top of my right knuckle and hit bone. Mine specifically.

    I bled like a stucked pig. And panicked – it’s not stopping!!!. I went circles between white fridge and white stove, tracking blood prints over surfaces. At one point I thought, oh dear, going down and I called out Hub’s name. He came running, getting there just in time enough to catch me as I was crumpling to the floor, knife still in hand and blood spotted around.

    Poor fellow. I came to with his grey face over me, his color coming back as mine did.

  4. Which could segue nicely to another time I came to with grey face over me saying “thank god you’re not dead!” (He knew what to do with my body, just not what to do with A body. Indiscrimate burial being frowned on and all.) Hm, next #
  5. Another thing unlikely to come up in conversation, I found a dead bird once, nah, skip that. Um, apparently in 1988, I did concrete poetry on the typewriter. At least once. An apocalyptic poem, some even in invisible typing, or maybe I used white out strip. (What was that called? eraser strip?)
  6. From paper to tree…I have a special fondness for cedar. Not a hedge so much, and not oil or boards, but a stand of cedars, or even one lone tree, older, standing. Sitting at the base of its roots, the aromatherapy of it breathing and my breathing is like a wormhole to tranquility. There used to be a cedar grove I’d go to clear my head. I miss that spot regularly. I’m too high up in this concrete.
  7. I used to actively collect stuff, stones, shells, bottle caps, lake-rounded broken glass, lost keys, apple seeds, any odd bits of ribbon, unusual paper, buttons or bric-a-brac into a couple large large craft drawers for handcrafting BD and thinking of you cards. I haven’t done that actively in years. But I still have some of the supplies. Maybe I’ll go back to that. It was quiet steady concentrated labour of love, to think about someone for 2, 4, 6 hours that it took to make one card.

ok-doe. Think I’m done that one. Hope you’re more amused than horrified.

Until the next post, take care of yourselves…

Quote: “Chance can allow you to accomplish a goal every once in a while, but consistent achievement happens only if you love what you are doing.” – Bart Conner a QB

26 Mar 2008, 7:30am
Books Communication

The Non-Verbal Dictionary

The Non-Verbal Dictionary by David B. Givens is a beautiful water to dip into. It’s all online.

It’s detailed with all sorts of things we unconsciously know and respond to, but it’s spelled out.

For example, Intention cues covers a lot from how we know someone is getting restless, is about to do leavetaking, jump into the discussion, agree with someone, defend. It’s posture, rate of motion, breath and gesture.

An intention cue–such as angling the feet away from someone we dislike–is an unconscious signal of how we truly feel about another person. Intention cues may also reflect inner attitudes, unvoiced opinions, and emotions as aroused.

Intention cues are unconscious, usually. Gestures and where we stand and at what angle to who are unconscious. They can be hijacked to try and change the dynamics, stop a negative feedback loop, or start a good one. One can try to force oneself to be more comfortable or less, if one thinks one should. By large, the brain and body do what they will with or without clearance from the conscious mind.

Evolution. Before faces and limbs, there was the body wall.[…]The “primal body,” resembling the primordial feeding tube.[…] Its skeletal muscles were designed to move the body from one place to another[…]
a. toward food and mates, and
b. away from enemies. […]
Observation. […] where feelings run high, the most truthful gestures come not from the limbs but from the torso. – The Body Wall

We’ve got a lot of data coming at us and going out of us. We are complex creatures but some of our psychology is pretty universal and coming from deep in the brain. We know when any creature, dog or spider or human, is making a confrontational stand or backing down. It’s hard wired into survival for us to pick up on that.

By eight weeks, e.g., the human fetus already “knows” to withdraw its head and neck when its mouth is touched. Defensive, coordinated flexing and withdrawing movements have been seen in immature fish larvae, in marine snails, and in human embryos at eight weeks of age. ln four-legged animals whose brains have been surgically disconnected from their spinal cords, almost any tactile stimulus will cause flexor muscles to contract and withdraw a limb from whatever touched it (Guyton 1996). withdrawal flexion

People to make culture and sustain peace bite their tongues, moderate, dig in their heels and stay put, hear people out, outlet disagreement in facial strain (and headaches of those muscles covering the scalp cramping?) rather than outright bolt.

People modulate chemical mismatch and all the ugly politics and stepped on toes and threats and mix the pureness of signals in an effort to get along or look good or not cause trouble. We know our brain stem can be testy. Maybe we didn’t sleep well, or maybe we’re cranky from being hungry or dehydrated, or are redirecting being bothered about some other thing in the past or future and that’s coloring the present. We know how easily we can overreact and misinterpret so we can learn to ignore what our own instinct and bodies tell us.

We may convince ourselves that we like someone when body language is saying, nope, rather not be around that person. It’s a flexion response, a reflex of going away from that which is outside the comfort zone, too boring, too livid, too whatever. We can use our higher brain to compensate. After all, it’s not healthy to stay exclusively in one’s comfort zone. If we only did what was easy, we’d all be zoned out watching TV eating junk food and dying of heart attacks or gunshot by age 30 with no discipline or capacity to do what is even moderately challenging for a better payoff.

Anyhew, gesture. It tells us something. We can’t assume shows one’s true character or personality or that it doesn’t. It speaks about that body in that moment and what the body tries to say to the other person. Palms Up is a transparent sort of gesture. Unlike feet position, hands are often right up in our peripheral vision when we watch the face of who talks to us.

Usage: Uplifted palms suggest a vulnerable or nonaggressive pose which appeals to listeners as allies, rather than as rivals or foes. Throughout the world, palm-up cues reflect moods of congeniality, humility, and uncertainty.

(Palm-up gestures contrast with palm-down cues, which are more domineering and assertive-like in tone.)

Accompanied by upward “palm shows,” our ideas, opinions, and remarks may seem patronizing or conciliatory rather than aggressively “pointed.”

Psychologically, reaching out to someone with an upwardly rotated, opened palm draws that person closer and helps build rapport.

We can learn to see the intent and work with it or against it, and the person it comes from. Is the response to be in conflict or compassion? Cooperative or competitive?

With the hand behind head gesture we automatically respond to the pull-back, without consciously being able to say why we think we know how the other person is responding.

Conversation’s lightning speed doesn’t pause. There’s a huge amount of data in what we say, how we say it, what we let pass, what we offer, our intonation, etc.

Usage: In a conversation, hand-behind-head may be read as a potential sign of uncertainty, conflict, disagreement, frustration, anger, or disliking (i.e., social aversion). It usually reflects negative thoughts, feelings, and moods. In counseling, interviewing, and cross-examining, the gesture telegraphs a probing point, an unresolved issue to be verbalized and explored.

Observations. 1. Asked if he would like to have lunch with the group, a hesitant co-worker touches the back of his head with his hand. Sensing uncertainty, a colleague responds, “Maybe tomorrow?” 2. Seeing his boss reach for her earlobe as he raises a sensitive point, an account executive proceeds with caution to resolve the issue. 3. When Jones suggests a new idea at the weekly staff meeting, Smith glances away and clasps his neck. Sensing resistance (which could subsequently fester and sabotage the proposal), Jones asks Smith to voice his opinion in words to the group.

We of course can miscommunicate by missing signals and latching onto something and missing something else. People even in one snapshot are complex, and with each person, mood, immediate history of day, expectation from the conversation or from the category of person and respect or disrespect for that (role at work, gender, power diferential, what have you) all sorts of things bleed around the edges.

We are almost better off just to move intuitively thru all this mass of mess of reactions and not try to analyze. On the other hand, there are patterns and there are assumptions that could be off-base.

Informed observation can shed new light of what’s going on and challenge our assumptions on what the general picture is. One’s own bias has a survival instinct of its own.

There’s so much interpretation in nuanced layers. But the analysis is a tool when you’re stumped of gathering signals of how to read someone. Like any good science, not if you have your idea and go out to try and prove it by throwing out whatever doesn’t fit, but gathering all the info and figure out how much of the time something happens, how representative, what is causal, what is incidental also occurring.

Link: Synesthesia in English and Arabic

Quote: “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn from QB quote of the day

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