Coping: From the Cynic’s Notebook

It’s the little things that remind me of how we got to be a confused, bewildered, and mostly paralyzed by cognitive dissonance in this country.  Come to think of it, without a southern border we may not even be a country any more.  Maybe that’s like computer software with a memory leak…without borders were just…leak , leak, leak ourselves to death…

A major dissonance arrived in Wednesday’s mail.

There it was:  A nice direct-mail piece suggesting that I subscribe to Alaska Magazine.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the magazine but they are really quite gorgeous.  The photography captures all the majesty of Denali down to the fishing boats of the southeast.

It’s along the lines of Arizona Highways, but when you set a copy of Alaska on the coffee table, I notice drinks stay cooler longer.

I appreciate the state, having been to Alaska a number of times, worked there, heard the ice on Turnagain Arm scream on a stormy winter’s night.  Seen the sun never set.. UFOs, top secret airplanes…love the place…but that was back in the day.

As I considered subscribing, the mental image of some hearty photographers sitting around a big A-frame on a lake populated by bush pilot sea planes, swigging coffee and pushing their Mac’s to the ultimate in graphic excellence disappeared.

I read the mailing address as follows:


Well, that turned into a quest for truth – and yes, the outfit has its editorial office located in Anchorage.  Likely this was a marketing outfit’s address, but this is the kind of thing (in Monk or Rainmaker fashion) that sticks in my craw, demands attention, and I feel compelled to dig out the answers.

That in turn led to trying to sort out why MapQuest couldn’t find the real Alaska Alaska office on Arctic Slope Avenue while Google Maps put it on Danner Avenue? 

That was only a sideshow to the question of whether I could set a seaplane down on nearby Taku Lake.

Damn!  Now I have to re-cultivate some friends in Anchorage to tell me which street name is current…Where’s the number of the Bush Company?

I’m sure one of these days the DSM-6 will be revised to offer some clarity on when a “healthy sense of inquiry” becomes a problem.  But, how could that be so for a writer?  Except in a column, like this one…

One of these days, I’m going to skip my anti-cynicism meds and begin my long-delayed campaign to start up the U.S. Department of Dissonance.  (My lawyer says U.S. will have to mean UrbanSurvival, otherwise I will be in hock to China for life.)

It’s a big job…but we’ve got to start somewhere.

Being a realist, though, I don’t expect any more success than when I campaigned to change the name of the New England Journal of Medicine to “What’s up, Doc?”

Still, it’s the patriotic thing to do. 

(But then so is annexing Canada.  I mean if Mexico can do it, then by God, why can’t we move our homeless to Vancouver?)

Tunes of Mass Consciousness?  Ohrwurms

Attention audiologists and woo-woo researchers.  As they used to say in CB-land, get’cher ears on for this morning’s discussion…

No, I don’t usually get up at 3 AM, but for some reason this morning I couldn’t get back to sleep.  Besides, the 1957 Mills Brothers song “Glow Worm” was going through my head.

All of which gets me around to wondering if mass consciousness (that some call universal subconscious mind) not only connects people in odd and mysterious ways, but also supplies a “play list” to go along with glimpses of future, wildly entertaining dreams and (with work) limited access to the future…

I haven’t touched on this phenomena for several years but the more formal name for it is involuntary musical imagery (INMI).

The Atlantic had a good article on point back in January.

But if you woke up this morning with “Glow Worm” going through your head, drop me a note.  I’m trying to decide is my “mental jukebox” is replaying songs from back when I was in grade school, or whether the Universe sends out nostalgia waves in addition to more common waves like gravity and light.

(And please, no emails point out light is only a wave some of the time, the rest of the time it’s a particle. I’m just looking around for the glow worm wave.)

Noise for Clear Thinking and “The Hum”

We we chatting Monday about how adding the right kind of noise might improve your thinking.

We had some pretty good input, too, like this from recording engineer/reader Dave:

Check this article about sounds in a quiet environment:

As for adding noise we sound guys do it during mastering CDs and we call it dither.

imageSince I’m an old broadcast and audio guy I was reluctant to share that with you because once we start talking about dither, then I’d need to explain the subtleties of my favorite recording/mathematical wet spot:  Signal to quantization-noise ratio

I should ask brother Dave whether that would be a productive use of your time because quantization error rides off into the sunset as A/D converter speeds go up in sample speed and A/D steps…but we’ll save that for another morning.

Reader Sherry has found the discussion of noise useful:

This info really helps my understanding of my mother’s behaviors.  She had a mild form of schizophrenia.  I grew up in a small house that had a radio and television on all the time. Mom said she couldn’t stand quiet since it allowed her to hear things that weren’t there.  She needed that input to allow her brain to function at daily activities.  She also said when she was really scared or upset, she saw faces on the wall.  Now I get it.

Going back to the studio for a minute (Dave, cue up the sound generator, rig up a spectrum analyzer and lemme do the 10-second lecture on “pink noise…”

As you’re tinkering around with adding noise to your thinking (assuming you have either a digital audio workstation (DAW) – if not, go download Audacity and have fun!), we should have a quick discussion of the difference between “white noise” and “pink noise.”

(Raise your hand if you know this one…)

White noise is just that – totally random noise like what you get between FM stations (assuming no adjacent signals and a long list of caveats).

Pink noise is (how to put this?) organized white noise.  Pink noise is spectrally evenly distributed (so you will have a comparable signal at 20 Hz and you will while making dog ear’s hurt when you tune up your MacIntosh 2300’s into some horn tweeters at 22KHz.

Back on point, just the “right” noise is not only associated with peak intuition (and learning) but also seems to correlate with peak experience.  Reader Mark has just such an experience:

George, interesting point, about “being in the noise”. I remember each one of the “moments” the music was loud. The rest of the times… no so much. I live in Llke Tahoe, Viper – Midnight – around the lake on a narrow two lane road… Heaven (Cop on side of road, lights flashing – turn up music… never tell wife – never forget)

And reader Cindy was wondering if we had heard anything about “A Mysterious Sound Is Driving People Insane — And Nobody Knows What’s Causing It…”

The answer is yes…it comes and goes.

Got a couple of theories ranging from aliens underground are tunneling out the earth, having already conquered the planet via the political class.

A closely competing theory is that magma makes noise when moving.

Since we hear it at the ranch, we just chalk it up to all the oil well drilling around here. 

And, of course, there’s the idea that the whole earth just has a rumble to it which it does if you happen to have a micro-seismometer handy.

Dreaming On…

One other note on noise, from various sources comes from colleague Chris McCleary who has taken over the project and is presently engaged in a major study to see if people can “dream a month” beyond statistical probability of noise.

He was wondering…

1. How does this phenomenon affect deaf people?
2. There’s a LOT going on vibrationally below and above audible level, including x-rays, gamma rays, etc. from the sun and the Earth’s Schuman resonance. That all plays into this, too, and I talked abit about this on the EdgeAM with Daniel Ott. All this vibrational goo is subtly affecting our dreams.

Very difficult to get completely out of the goo. Astronauts have done the best job of it, and have found that it’s extremely unhealthy to be away from (particularly) Gaia’s vibes for any length of time.

DreamBot is doing some amazing things lately with my new tweaks. Project August already has a 20% + hit rate on it…and it’s not even August.

Some of the things I’m pretty sure already came true, but most of the hits are for events that got coverage but will happen in August. Pretty amazing stuff. Non-scientific, but definitely amazing.

You can read about Project August over here, but if you’re into being a good little capitalist swine (like me) you might also want to read one of the August dreams Chris wrote up in his column this morning about some kind of Big financial accomplishment coming next month from China.

(With they complete their acquisition of Idaho or National Forest Lands in Arkansas?)

In the meantime, just chill out until the figure “Koo Curiosus” shows up…

Around the Ranch:  Zeus the Cat’s New Job

Taste Tester. 

He likes regular (cheddar, Swiss) cheese.

Won’t touch those “singles” slices that are a “milk product.”

Elaine says he’s smarter than me.

No doubt:  She’s onto something.

Write when you break-even.  I’m still eating enough preservatives and food additives I should make the century mark, hands down…I’m patient, but don’t wait forever.