Dave:

As you read this make sure that you appoint time to read Michael S. Gazzaniga’s book, “Who’s in Charge: free will and the science of the brain”

Originally posted on TIME:

One of the lively debates spawned from the neuroscience revolution has to do with whether humans possess free will, or merely feel as if we do. If we truly possess free will, then we each consciously control our decisions and actions. If we feel as if we possess free will, then our sense of control is a useful illusion—one that neuroscience will increasingly dispel as it gets better at predicting how brain processes yield decisions.

For those in the free-will-as-illusion camp, the subjective experience of decision ownership is not unimportant, but it is predicated on neural dynamics that are scientifically knowable, traceable and—in time—predictable. One piece of evidence supporting this position has come from neuroscience research showing that brain activity underlying a given decision occurs before a person consciously apprehends the decision. In other words, thought patterns leading to conscious awareness of what we’re going to do are already in…

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Dave:

As I expressed on Dover Beach, Maximos the Confessor expressed so many centuries ago what has become one of my favorite points of spiritual development!

Originally posted on Dover Beach:

Maximus the Confessor

“The person who truly wishes to be healed is he who does not refuse treatment. This treatment consists of the pain and distress brought on by various misfortunes. He who refuses them does not realize what they accomplish in this world or what he will gain from them when he departs this life.”

~ St. Maximus the Confessor, Third Century on Love

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Around 8:30 Saturday morning, my brother Brad and his son Brandon loaded the pickup with two 90 pound spools of barbed wire, several wooden fence posts, fence staples along with those other necessary tools (hammers, fence stretcher & pliers and finally a tamper). My task was to help mom finish up a few things around the house before we headed out. Brandon and his dad came back into the house for water, pop and me, which is why I’d ridden back out to the ranch with the two of them. Once they had procured necessary items, we out into the pasture to work on close to two miles of barbed wire fence.

west calving pockets

west calving pockets

From then on Brandon, Brad and I rewired the top line of a four wire fence between our south pasture and what used to be the west calving pockets set against a field. The photo shows a small part of the pockets. If you look closely, at the edge between sky and ground, you’ll also see a few of those 1000 to 1200 lb. bales of sorghum or what I grew up calling ‘cain’. Spread across those hills is a between subtle on toward strong set of autumn colors for the prairie. Those are nothing like those autumn colors we boast about up in the Rockies and which T truly love. However, what is spread across our grassland has a deeper sway in my mind than any other.

Those hefty round bales, you can barely see, are part what a high school classmate of mine has been doing on our land for the past 20 years. The field, you can’t see, is covered in dry stalks from the harvested cain. Sparsely scattered across this field are green sprouts which will die with the first frost this new fall. Ours was a mildly rough ride across the field and finally out onto the grass.

For those who don’t know, a hogback is a rather smoothly curved hill directly dropping down into the canyon below. Our job was to strip off the top of four lines of old barbed wire and replace it with new wire. Being out with those two resurfaced memories and skills from a few decades ago. Honestly, I was pleased beyond anything I’d imagined when I agreed to help.

Brad quickly loosened the old wire we were to be replacing from what he’d already accomplished. He then began pulling staples from the posts and heading east.  Brandon, rightly, split off from both of us and headed on down the hogback. Once the boy was out of sight he began pulling staples and heading back up toward his dad.IMG_0775

My job was simple. I picked up on the loose end of the barbed wire and begin rolling it up. It sounds easy but isn’t. Keeping the wire taut requires both pulling on that first single loop so that the wire on ahead has a little strain on it but without warping the loop. After that you begin weaving the wire back and forth so that those barbs hook against each other and keep a tense hold on each strand of wire as more loops are added.

That job is slow. It is slow because of needing to keep those rusted barbs from cutting into your skin or through your glove and then into your hand. Weaving that wire back and forth takes patience as well. By taking my time, I have always been able to toss a stable roll of barbed wire into the back of the pickup. Keeping it than way makes the wire safer to handle.

My years spent on horseback and I know my brother’s on his motorcycle imprinted us with a love for this land and that way of life. It is markedly different than what I had put myself into across since leaving back in 1975. I don’t regret my changing over to clinical social work and emergency clinical work. However, I honestly miss spending time out there. My life on horseback and becoming dirty beyond most city dwellers’ belief from farming was positively different and, I think, better. Again, not because I regret not having stayed out there. I miss living that way. It isn’t simpler nor less complex because a rancher and farmer seeks to move in concert with nature even more than we need to keep in sway with the rest of humanity’s population. This life may not move as rapidly as what I did in psychiatric emergency, it is, though, as complex because nature doesn’t listen to us either.

While we were still up on the hogback we watched a doe cautiously jump the fence and work her way down into the canyon and out of sight. As we had bounced our way across the field a little earlier we had already spotted a buck and a couple other does in the direction this one was headed. So, stealing her way on out of our sight made sense.

Before the doe had made her appearance and as I said a few paragraphs before, Brandon had walked out of sight and pulled staples as he walked back toward his dad and me. This almost 30 year old kid came back up over the hogback carrying a military style water bottle strapped to his back. I’m a little jealous, but I decided to not try and take it from him. I made that decision knowing the boy could have easily kicked my butt.

Brandon on fence line

Brandon on fence line

Imagine my doing the same thing back in my teenage years. Back then, I would have had on a pair of bibbed overalls with the claw hammer hanging down off the cloth loop at my hip level. I don’t know whether I’d have had on a baseball cap or a straw hat, but like Brandon, my head would have been covered. Do you see a bright strand running from the nearest fence post back toward the base of this photo? If you do, you are looking at the brand new top layer of barbed wire we’d finished stapling to those posts running on over the hogback behind Brandon.

Back behind him and off to your right you can see down that little canyon a green tree and a few dark spots scattered around it. Those dark spots of Angus cattle. Those, little spots, below my high school classmate.Perhaps you can also make out the rust color spread across the hills. Those belong to the Little Bluestem grass which is the state of Nebraska grass.

In the  photo, below, of a Soapweed Yucca plant, a post and my leather gloved hand  you can kind of see the first of several rolls of barbed wire I had to deal with. I’m not adept at taking a photo like this, but I tried. What kind of looks like a dying flower, off to the right and above my hand isn’t. Those are pods growing up from the Soapweed and have already dispersed their seeds. In the spring of the year those same pods are green and loved by the cattle. Many of them are stripped off their stems with delight by the cattle who had just calved.

a roll of 50 to 70 year old barbed wire

a roll of 50 to 70 year old barbed wire

During my high school years my dad, who is now in the nursing home, and I spend hours every day combing these little hills and canyons for cows having trouble giving birth.That was during the end of winter and into the early spring of every year. My spending time out here has heavily laden me with positive and negative memories. At this point in my life I do not make and attempt to sort them out and shove them on to either side of any line. All that matters to me is that they are both present in my life.

So then, I love the raw beauty of what I  saw and you now see in these photos. Until we finished somewhere between 6:30 toward 7 PM this marginally old boy sweated, hurt and love what he did. While I am certain few of you see a romantic tone to these words I want to make obvious that my love grows out of an admiration for what my father taught me.

Like I have told many of my peers, in mental health, I love the ass I call my father. Just as I voiced about the calving season and fixing fence both sets of feelings and many in between are consistent across the whole thing. Neither rules out nor creates my love for an activity or a person. I adored watching my little nephew, Brandon, who is no longer so little nor very young. Yet, I prize watching this young man do the same things I was doing 40 years ago. Those deep feelings have everything to do with being attached to both the son of my brother and the work I grew up doing.

My being of the ilk to not try and divide everything up speaks clearly of why what I have written about in the few photos I’ve shared means so much to me.

The next morning exposed me to a whole new level of what it means to grow up on a ranch. While my legs didn’t hurt in the slightest because of my peddling between 10 to 20 miles a day on my recumbent trike, my arms and shoulders hurt so bad. The stark differences from my head to my feet are just another level of how I see reality. Even in the discomfort I adored where I was and had been.

Early this morning, four years ago, I lost my son. Like every suicide I had ever dealt with, his had more subterranean dynamics than even Daniel @ 6 yrsCharles Dickens or Eleanor Catton would want to drag their readers through.

After walking over to my neighborhood Starbucks for a quick espresso, a cousin of mine, who is barely two years older than Dan, texted me about her remembering playing with him. Those two were like puppies with one another. I love remembering Tannith, Jordan and Dan playing, quarreling and even occasionally fighting with one another.

Last evening, knowing what was already churning within me, Jordan sent a text. In it she said, simply and well, “I love you.” Her laying those words among many others intent on our getting together in the next day or so brought tears of joy to my eyes. Those tears weren’t cried over losing her brother, but over my having her.

Jordan hasn’t replaced Dan. Back then he had struggled with a natural conflict over fathers’ loving their daughters more than sons. Even today, I have to plod my way through memories of that conflict. A year or so before he took his life, Dan had called angry and upset with me. His true sorrow was over my seemingly loving his sister more than him. It took courage to let him try and bruise my ego, by confronting me with how I do more things for his sister, Jordan, than for him.Daniel @ 19

So, proving to himself that he was right wouldn’t have lessened his pain, it would have only justified his certainty of being worth less to me. By letting him carry on with his lambasting me without refuting nor returning salvos of self-defense his feelings quelled, a bit. After he settled, only a little, I told him, “I love the two of you differently but never less.”

Those words took him by surprise. He’d never suspected such a difference. It offered him a chance to both see that my choices may still be fault laden, but not in whether I loved him as I loved his sister. My hearing him calm down and cry to me about being wrong didn’t give me justification as a righteous dad. It ladened me with a deeper desire to make my motivations in choices between the two of them more obvious, especially to him.

Up front I must tell you that I’ve stolen a title. The APA titled their article in the Observer with “Getting it in Writing” which caught my attention. Their choice is one the mark and is the right one for my own attempt to push this idea out.

Like most everyone else, I figure that you had to take a typing class or two during high school. That wasn’t though treated as an escape from the pen and pencil. Rather, it was only one more means to communicate. Today, we are beginning to treat those two items as obsolete. If you could be watching me as I type this quick posting, you’d see me sitting in the library with an iPad and keyboard in my lap.

So, am I an expression of a new concern? Well, perhaps I am but I had already begun learning to express myself by “writing” with a pencil and paper. My kids had done the same, but computers came into their lives well ahead of when it entered mine.

For the moment, I want us taking a long critical look at both this initial research and our socially insisting on the keyboard being in the laps of our kids. Should we adeptly look into this concern, I doubt the keyboard will be eliminated. It might though be forced to the side, at times.

A little earlier this morning I found this posted on Facebook.

10402768_10152579002551117_3584285232003233123_n

 

This is one of the best statements about my kind of business I’ve ever seen.

 

Early this morning I’d set up an appointment at the Apple Store in Aspen Grove. I need to see one of their Geniuses because of a sporadic problem with my iPhone.

10262206_10152126950081837_1967335045037721340_nIt was only after discovering that its’ SIM card had begun pretending it was no longer in my iPhone. Some of you know, that messages on the screen saying “NO SIM card”. As far as I knew before making this trip I’d not missed any calls since no one had harassed me.

Rather than riding the bus and light rail down here I mounted my trike and rode south beside the South Platte. It is a lovely trip. This time of year the river is much lower than the photo, but I like this one.  As I traversed those few miles of small hills and was passed by and passed a few fellow bikers a storm cloud was crawling over the Rockies. Those four or so miles between my apartment and the mall were dry with in a cool breeze in spite of rain clearly falling on the foot hills. By the time I had arrived the clouds had already begun tinkling on the South Platte. IMG_0536

My first stop was at Panera Bread to eat one of their bagels with cream cheese. I have long loved having an assortment of breads from this store. Unfortunately, the soon to be hard rain forced me to quickly ran from my half eaten cream cheese filled bagel and on down toward the Apple store. To my good fortune I found a great spot next to that malls Starbucks along with a large trash bag from a barista to protect my recumbent trike’s seat.

lAfter trash bagging the seat, I came back in to order a cold decaf coffee and noticed the owner of another local coffee shop imbibing some of his oppositions beverage. Day’s like this are mixed with thorns and roses!

Brad had come down here to hide in a corner and do his paperwork. That makes sense. No one in here knows who he is, except me. So he was able to sit there and work without being bothered for anything, except my intruding into this quiet corner of his life. My intrusion, though, feed some more fun into this afternoon. He is the first friend to hit on me about whether I am thinking about taking hold of the new iPhone 6. His face light up, brighter with each word. I’m wondering if he isn’t thinking of snagging one for himself?

154211248-the-signage-on-a-branch-of-starbucks-coffee-on-october.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge Okay, I’ve set this page aside and headed over to the Apple Store with a gentle rain falling. My assigned Genius took me on about 5 minutes before the 2pm appointment. Because I’d made a note about the SIM problem he came prepared to suggested it may simply be my iPhone’s SIM card. Now that’s a no brainer and was part of what I thought.

So, now I’m back over at Starbucks finishing this posting. I’ll make the AT&T call and switch the SIM cards once I’m home. However, I won’t know for severals days whether this is the solution or I’ll be triking back down here.

This afternoon, I picked up on an APA article they titled “Literary Character“. Our beginning to discover differences between learning by reading versus watching is important. From my point of view we do not need to see a devaluing of movies but rather a rethinking of how both fashions can be used.Books Since both touch into us in different fashions each sets off different parts of our neural nets and that is the whole point.

While physical reading is important, I have discovered that I do better listening than trying to use just my eyes. Why? I am uncertain but I know that by listening I am able to gain a broader time span than I can muster by being just visual. My daughter, though, is able to read with an amazing speed and cannot truly stomach listening to a book as her father can.

I see grave differences between the movies of Alfred Hitchcock and those of George Lucas. Both accomplished stirring up my body but only Hitchcock was able to agitate my mind and push it beyond excitement into terror, intrigue and the kind of thinking I love doing. Lucas was able to ruffle my emotional feathers going close to nowhere with my thought and emotional intellect. I am not demeaning that focus. Rather, I am wishing this fashioning of movies was never the dominant side it has always been.

“But a number of studies suggest that books — and specifically literary fiction — can also affect social skills, emotional intelligence, and behavior throughout life. As Canadian novelist and psychological scientist Keith Oatley, an APS Fellow, has written, stories appear to offer a deeply felt simulation of social experience, expanding our understanding of ourselves and others.” 

Was it the contrasting works of Alfred Hitchcock, Edgar Allen Poe, Søren Kierkegaard, Douglas Adams, Robert Arthur, Darren Aronofsky, Isaac Asimov; Greg Bear; Ray Bradbury; Roald Dahl; Aldous Huxley; Paul Levinson, Larry Niven or even H. G. Wells that helped to shape my personality and that professional life I lived?Reading_web Did those books come close to completely shaping me? I doubt any of those authors, especially the plethora of Sci-Fi I listed carried much of my life between their pages. Those did though generate massive amounts of thoughts and fantasies which proved a treasure.

So then, I do not want to see movies disappear. I do want to see the use of movies moved well past simply accepting the shape shifting of their only listening to the whims of the social psyche.

RanchOver the past decades, I have made many trips to and from the ranch I grew up on. This time, I was afforded a marginally different trip to and from the same location.

Mid-morning on the Friday nuzzling up to this past weekend that difference began crawling out from under a rock. My sister-in-law, Shelley, called telling me that Kelly would be picking me up early that afternoon and hauling  my carcass out to their place.

The young lady showed just as Shelley had said in a dark blue and fairly new Mercedes. As I folded up to fit in, I was afforded the first opportunity to catch sight of Brandon’s fiancee. His mother, Shelley’s voice had betrayed a touch of enthusiasm about her fortunes. I had know about the girl and their decision, but only then did I have the opportunity to meet her.

From that point on, I found myself pleased, across the weekend, with this evolving mixture of people. Carting me along was a young lady who’d earned her B.A. and yet was taking additional pre-med classes. She also proved to be a lady who wanted to read from my latest copy of Scientific American Mind. Things like this put her right in the mix of people I love being around. On top of that she’s another of those cute little girls I love to cluster up around my daughter. Yah, the dad in me connects with and encourages young ladies to group up with Jordan in her part of my mind.

05237a-1Unfortunately, I forgot to take any pictures of those few marvelous escapades with a young lady who’d not really spent time on a farm. So, let’s just pick up on her first run with an ATV. Kelly had ridden the four wheeler over the hill and we were waiting for her return. I suppose it was at least a good five minutes before we saw her walking back over the little hill. Of course, Brandon took off on the run toward her. It was another good 10 minutes before we saw the two of them riding back over the hill on the ATV.

Of course we had imagined every kind of mishap but none of those proved true. She had tried everything except to shift the device into neutral to restart it. So then, her only problem was in getting the device to carry her back. The best part of this little fumble was the attitude the young lady showed us. She was able to laugh like the rest of us about it.

At least, this weekend exposed several qualities in this young lady capable of making me hope the two of them wed. Even my daughter has had little trouble in getting me to see the current man of her life this way. All I can imagine this child was truly capable of wasn’t tapping into my own bias. If she really does become an MD than the two of us can carry on many heavy conversations over the years to come.

Delightful minutes were spent scrolling down through Kenan Malik’s  FAITH IN RUINS. I wish you a few minutes, as well, to read and traipse down through the rest of his photos.

lindisfarne1

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