Monday, April 26, 2010

There is nothing more boring than other peoples' dreams

3 times the past 2 days I've dreamed I'm lost in an apartment building or hotel.

1st -- dreamed hub & I were renting an apartment in a different building, several blocks from our current home. It was a large house (mansion?) broken into several apartments, and ours was laid out in an odd way -- more like 2 apartments. I thought maybe we'd split them, add a bathroom & sublet the smaller half out. I realize I'm late for work. I am wandering, trying to find my way out, & see my mom has gutted one apartment & built an amazing new kitchen -- my jaw drops. She asks me to finish a chore but I have to leave for work.

2nd -- I'm in a large hotel adjoining a club I've visited before. The club is VERY small but the hotel is HUGE, one gigantic ballroom or dining room after another. I know everyone is coupled but I am alone & cannot find my way back to my room. I find myself on a mezzanine overlooking a ballroom & the most amazing staircase circles down. I know I might never have a chance to make a "grand entrance" on this type of staircase so I decide to walk down it majestically. At first the steps seem slick & I worry I might fall but soon I'm gliding down, light on my feet & feeling very dreamy-lovely.

3rd -- I'm in a hotel with a museum attached. The museum has an odd red & black theme to the floor, and has displays with small mechanical people acting out historical scenes. This time the theme is older women -- Mrs Roper (from Three's Company) comes to visit but is so old & feeble she cannot speak. My mother in law is reading her will, she wants everyone to know she doesn't have long & what to expect. My friend Lana's Aunt Frannie is doing the same. My MIL comes to where I'm sitting, hands me a check & thanks me for being good to her. I kiss her on both cheeks. I do love her.

Themes: Lost: disconnected from others though I know they are present
Vast building: cannot remember where I should be, nor how to get there
Doors: I keep trying to remember what lies behind which door so as not to retrace my steps
Windows: keep looking out windows so as to get my bearings, which direction am I facing/ heading
Older Women: My mom, the building owner, Mrs Roper, my MIL, Aunt Frannie
Showing off: walking down the stairs, bragging about my space & money making opportunities, bragging about my friends

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mental Models Rule Your World

I'm reading a book on decision-making but you don't have to, because I took notes and made a COOL flow chart. This one is chapter 2 of Think Twice, by Michael Maubousson, called Open to Options.


Monday, April 19, 2010

The Hunter S-capades

A jillion years ago I used to have a zine (maga-zine, a little handwritten comic-type phamplet I made & xeroxed & distributed myself) (called Oompf!) and my BFF Marcy wrote this little story about my madmad crush on Hunter S Thompson for it.
Its kinda small & hard to read: you might save & enlarge it, or, as I like to say, bigify.

This story is not 100% true, prob less than 50% tho trust me, my hindsight is NOT 20/20. Its cute tho, and poignant. We were frustrated little girls: we were able to envision a lifestyle much heartier & more vibrant than we were capable of having. Winter in Central PA is depressing all on its own, and the particular valley we lived in seemed to trap the clouds. I remember sitting in those box cars, so bored, and feeling Sylvia Plath-like -- not like we were sitting in a bell jar but that the entire town was under some dome. I imagined a lovely creamy china teacup up-turned -- delicate, dripping, & inescapable.

Hunter had been there, & Hunter had escaped. Its important to have models & mentors in life. You might not know how you'll do it but just knowing it CAN be done has the potential to drive even the most hopeless & least motivated onward. That was the gift Hunter S gave us that winter. I still love him for it.

Here's the story Hunter S wrote about Jersey Shore.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Person Training: emotion excercises & social stretches for stronger Hot Intelligence

Part 1.a: Intelligence can be HOT

We see the world through "us" colored glasses: everything is tinged with the hue of our own personality. Most of what we do involves other people, yet empathy is not a skill easily learned. Education traditionally focuses on cognition -- information gleaning & processing skills, and the logical progression of thought -- but mood often effects thoughts so one's knowledge of moods & emotions must be a factor in how well-functioning a person can fully be.

Think about it: we're aware of the world around us by using our 5 senses. Similarly, we're aware of the minds of ourselves & others by expressing & perceiving emotions. We have 6 basic emotions which are easily detected by our facial expressions -- happy, sad, afraid, angry, surprised, or disgusted. Just as knowing how to think is vital to building one's general intelligence, knowing how to feel is the basis of practical intelligence.

For this conversation, I'm going to stick to a dual model of intelligence, with sub-branches. Practical intelligence is hot, its interpersonal, & involves skills specific to how we relate to & interact with others. General intelligence is cool, its inTRApersonal. General intelligence involves cognitive skills -- focusing on, remembering & processing information internally. We subconsciously combine the internal thought process with the external social life, and, according to one's individual abilities, find patterns & draw conclusions which drive our conscious actions.

Just as hot & cool intelligences intertwine symbiotically, so do the two branches of HI -- emotional & social intelligence. Because so much of being social relies on empathy, emotional intelligence is the starting point of it all.

Part 1.b: ID E for stronger HI

In order to really develop EI, a person needs to be able to...

~identify emotions & emotional responses

~use emotion to spur thought

~understand what the various emotions mean


~manage emotions, your own & others'

Emotions drive thoughts. Thoughts drive beliefs, & beliefs drive actions. If you want to know why a person thinks or does what they do, recognizing their related emotions will give you great insights.

Identifying emotions is the basis of EI. We mentioned that the basic 6 emotions can be recognized visually, by facial expression.

Facial expressions are one form of nonverbal communication, but all parts of the body can give you hints as to how a person is feeling. For example, a head tilt to the side shows a person is interested & paying attention.

Learn to pay attention to your own & others' body language. Watch their hands, their feet, how they hold their torso & you will *hear* a unspoken conversation. Here are just a few points to watch for:

  • ~A face touch shows discomfort or a lack of confidence. If a salesman touches their face while quoting a price, ask for a discount and see what they say.
  • ~A true smile engages the eyes & is higher on the right side. If a person is not being sincere, the eyes will not move and the smile will be higher on the left.
  • ~Arms crossed over the chest is an attempt to protect ones' self, to place a barrier between them & something they find uncomfortable.
  • ~When sitting, the legs & feet usually point to a person or destination of interest (i.e. the door).
  • ~Upwards facing palms show sincerity: fingertips touching shows confidence.

When you're interacting with another, more than half of the information conveyed will be nonverbal. Most of that will be from body language but some knowledge can be gained from just looking at the person. Clothing, jewelry, spatial distance during conversation & especially body-art can tell you a lot about a person. You might not want to judge a book by its cover but that does not mean you should ignore these many & obvious signals.

Almost half of all communication is made up of the non-verbal aspects of speech. So often in modern society people learn to hide their true voice. They aim to speak only in terms of logic, reason & facts, so their words might not truly express what they feel. The way they speak, however, tells a story, too. The voice is dependant on the breath & the breath is very closely tied to our sense of safety -- or threat.

When you're afraid, your heart races & your chest feels tight. You tend to take shallow breaths and say shorter sentences with shorter words, faster. When you're relaxed tho, you exhale fully & slowly. The longer the pause to exhale, the more at ease you appear. A person who is calm is more able to access their true emotions, & more apt to be genuine about their feelings. A higher pitch to the voice shows excitement: a lower pitch shows gravity & assertion.

The last few percent of communication is, oddly enough, verbal. Words represent a person's thoughts, whereas non-verbals represent feelings. Verbal communication is one person offering information to another: both are equally important. There must be a sender & a receiver of the message. There will often be barriers, such as misunderstandings & distractions, so try to use as few words as necessary to get your message across as clearly as possible.

People tend to use certain ways to get around expressing their feelings verbally. Sometimes people will use text bridges -- a word or phrase that will tell an alert listener there is some information being passed over. Sometimes they will repeat a phrase or stammer, letting you know they are feeling anxious, possibly being deceptive. Listen also for words that imply something very certain especially if the body says something else. Pay attention then, there may be logical flaws in their story. When people tell the truth, they don't bother with modifiers such as "I went STRAIGHT home," or "I ONLY did this."

Part 1.c: EI exercises, phase 1


Play a little game: any time you're in an area with many people, see if you can identify all 6 facial expressions of emotion -- happy, angry, surprised, sad, afraid, disgusted. HAF SAD


Start noticing the 8 points of nonverbal communication in yourself & others.

  1. gesture

  2. posture

  3. facial expression

  4. gaze

  5. proximity

  6. touch

  7. appearance

  8. voice


Identify verbal cues that reveal emotions, intent, & motives.

Be aware of...

  • text bridges,

  • inserting a word that is definitive when it is not necessary,

  • or repeating phrases.

Once you get stronger at the 3 individual skills, try combining them. Try to notice facial expression, body language AND verbal cues.

Part 2... Using EI to facilitate intellectual growth

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

There is nothing more important than being a pretty girl, pt 2

also... Morality by Aphorisms, pt 2

While I was researching the last blog entry, I decided to "have some work done." It was a coincidence: I'd been thinking about it for a while, and there is a plastic surgeon in the suite next door to my salon, plus I'd been in a bit of a rut lately, so I thought, why not? (My poor blog reflects that and I was self-conscious when I noticed -- "I don't have a passion," "I'm numb to the suffering of those far away," "I'm not emotional enough.")

Please do not think it wasn't a bit of a shock to me when I realized what I'd done on an evolutionary level. When we walked on all fours, our rumps showed the female estrus cycle, and when we started walking up-right, we started mating face to face for the first time. The genitals, being hidden, were symbolically replaced by mouth. Lips (both 'upstairs' & 'downtown') get swollen & red after passionate moments. And I learned all that the very evening I had my lips enhanced.

I have blond hair already (sign of youth), long blond hair (sign of health), bright green eyes (show excitement easily), decent boobage (sign of youth), hourglass figure (sign of fertility) and now, fat kissable lips. Sure I bought some of those traits -- I'm not 22 anymore -- but I have them, I wear them proudly, and its important to me that I keep them, and keep perfecting them. Some might say its me trying to cling to youth, but honestly, I didn't look this good when I was young. So I'll say its me being a bit of a perfectionist... or, more generously put, I'm dedicated to my personal evolution & constantly working to improve myself.

The day after I'd had the work done, I went to Sunday dinner at BFF Shari's, slightly swollen. Her step-daughter Paula was visiting and immediately dropped her jammies to show off her new tattoo, a realistic revolver on her thigh. Because I knew I looked odd, I told her I'd just had my lip done and she asked why. I didn't have a good answer for her. She then said she couldn't imagine doing something that would so totally forever change her as a person.

I was taken aback.

I pointed out to her that I am still the same person, I just look a little different now, and that the Juvederm fades away in about a year. Then I pointed out that she had her own lip pierced. Twice. And that she had 8 huge tattoos that really DID change her forever, as ink doesn't fade like a filler does. She left to have a smoke.

At dinner we started talking about Paula's boyfriend's dog, and how because Paula didn't like the dog, it was causing some problems in the relationship. Paula started spewing such hateful things out about the poor dog and how Ian related to the dog. I'd had a couple glasses of wine and in a very joking and coy way, loudly whispered to him "you should dump her."

Paula was very offended. I tried to explain that it was a flip comment: that if your relationship was so fragile that a dog would come between you, ya, maybe you're not right for each other. I meant to put the situation in the context that a problem dog wasn't truly a problem, its easily solved by just taking control of the situation and the changes needed to get the results you want. Evolve. Improve. Perfect yourself.

She left to have a smoke.

I felt pretty bad about it. I worried I'd made a situation poor Shari would be forced to clean up, and worried that Ian really WOULD dump her and I'd be responsible. I apologized and Shari assured me it wasn't a big deal but you never know how a flip comment will be taken by young people. Paula doesn't share the level of intimacy, the rapport, that Shari & I have, she didn't realize how we joke around.

Shari stopped by the salon a couple days later and told me that once Paula & Ian got home, they had a huge fight about the dog. I froze. Shari went on to explain that they'd googled and found some training techniques, and had come up with a plan as to how to make their lives -- with the doggy! -- better. She said I'd saved the dog's life, that chances were good that Ian would have given up the dog to keep Paula happy but now they were taking a step in a new direction and Shari thanked me.

And Paula said the dinner conversation made her change her mind. And that she felt bad that she had taken it all so personally!

As I said in regards to Dr Shermer's many aphorisms on morality: the unexamined life is not worth living but an over-examined life isn't always good either. Its best to not over think everything that comes out of your mouth and sometimes you have to rely on the patternicity/ theory of mind you've developed and go with gusto. Sometimes saying the wrong thing is the right thing to do.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Chemistry of ~~Chemsitry, pt 2: There's nothing more important than being a pretty girl

In the last blog, we discussed how men see something exciting and want a reward, immedietly, even if it isn't sexual. What is it about women that makes men so excited?

Men are hard-wired to want to spread their seed, and women are genetically driven to make men want to give them the seed. We are motivated instinctively to want one another more than anything else, and the chemistry of the brain drives that as well as enhances it.

Males are led by testosterone and women are led by estrogen. Test & Est are chemically similar: just as the Y chromosome is simply a broken X, Est is Test with a 'stem' or two missing.

Estradiol, a form of estrogen, peaks just before ovulation. Now, men make testosterone all day, their cycle is about every 20-40 minutes. Women have a much longer cycle, and the various repercussions of it are far more enhanced. So while a man might have some slight peaks & valleys from his test being pumped out, it happens so quickly he & others might never be aware of it. Most people, on the other hand, are abundantly aware of how a woman's moods ebb & flow with her 28 day cycle.

There are studies that demonstrate that estradiol can protect delicate neural circuits, and when Est drops -- such as after pregnancy or during menses -- a woman might feel more anxious. Generally speaking tho, Est is an evolutionary godsend: Est makes a woman feminine. It makes her skin softer & smoother, makes her voice higher, makes her more confident & more competitive, all traits designed to entice a mate. Women who have higher than average Est have a great advantage in life, all the above traits as well as the Marylin Monroe look -- large bust, tight waist, round hips. These women are far more in demand, and (perhaps as a result) are more prone to 'trade up' or stray. They tend to be the type of women men want & women hate.

Men like bombshells. It takes a lot of nutrients to grow a healthy head of hair, and long hair shows a woman has been healthy for years. Blue eyes show the pupil better, and since pupils dilate when a gal gets excited, lighter eyes show excitement better. Tight waist & round hips, as shown before, are a sign of plenty of estradiol, which means increased fertility. Lips thin with age, & blond hair darkens, so a busty blond with plump lips and an hourglass figure isn't just eye-candy & pretty isn't just in the eye of the beholder. Its also in the nose, ears, skin & brain.

There's nothing more important than being a pretty girl!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The chemistry of ~~chemistry, pt 1, Pair Bonding

We all know men are visual creatures. Studies show that generally when a man is mentally aroused, he is physically as well. Simple creatures that they are, the gratification need not be sexual. They are often as satisfied with money or sweets. Men see something sexy, & want to be rewarded... even if its not a sexual reward. Its like the desire for sexual gratification spills over into other areas of the brain's reward system.

Our limbic system is hard-wired for this: we have 2 basic desires -- high-fat food & sex/ procreation. These 2 'rewards' stimulate the dopamine response in a way that addictive drugs do as well.

Humans, being pair-bonding animals, not only find sexual relationships rewarding, we also find individual-pair-bonding rewarding. This is an evolutionary boon as it helps us stay together long enough to make a baby. It also helps us fall in love with the child, and want to stay with the child long enough to raise them to maturity. Indeed, having a healthy pair-bond is an almost universal sign of personal happiness.

Pair bonding animals have more D2 (dopamine) receptors, reward (I WANT THAT) sites, and non pair-bonders have more D1 receptors, satiety (I've had enough of that) sites. We all know how intense the feeling of love or infatuation can be, truly like a drug trip, and for some, very addictive.

As these neural pathways evolved at a time when we had so little in the way of stimulation, and now we have so much, its easy to see how easily we become over stimulated by things like video games, gambling, porn, internet, casual sex, drugs/ alcohol, etc. We're programmed to look for the next mood-enhancing moment, and we've become very crafty at finding it. We're hard-wired for lovin'.

Which leads back to men seeing, and wanting.

So we bond mostly because of the reward receptors we have, but also because we touch & orgasm (& breastfeed) which release oxytocin, another very sexy neurotransmitter. It not only makes us feel more trusting & bonded, but also helps reduce other cravings, like sweet cravings. Note tho, that without the "rewarding" dopamine, the oxytocin alone will not create the "in love" feeling. The two, like romantic partners!, must be balanced.

Women are not like men. Women can be mentally aroused and yet not get physically aroused. Their reward circuitry is based on their hormonal cycles, which are much longer than males'. Women tend to anticipate rewards more when their estrogen is at its peak -- pre-ovulation. This is easily attributable to evolution again: a woman should be more reward-driven (I WANT THAT) at the time when she is most likely to get pregnant.

Future posts -- what makes women attractive & the Coolidge Effect

Monday, January 18, 2010

Anvil: dreams are forged in fire

~~Big shots are little shots who keep on shooting.

Hub & I met up with Taki76 & Jenny-Jen the other night. They're pretty cool: they have "respectable people" jobs, they like socializing, watching movies, and in their spare time, they make fun, funky music & videos. Its probably not as common a hobby as, say watching the game, but its their special thing and they get a lot of joy from it. Its a passion.

I have a fondness for people with a passion in life, maybe because I don't. It gives me a thrill to see people get into something just because they love it... not because its their job, or because it will get them more chicks... I like people who like a thing, an activity, just because it makes them happy.

We met up with Taki & Jenny at the Anvil show at the Filmore-TLA. Anvil is the musical love-child of Lips Kudrow & Robb Reiner, two slightly 'over-the-hill' guys who have been rockin' out together since the 70s. I first became aware of them when I saw a documentary this summer. They were portrayed as the real Spinal Tap, the little shots of the 80s metal scene, little shots that kept on shooting.

A funny thing about me is that I'm very goal-oriented, but I'm far more so status driven. I like people who really work at making their dreams come alive, but I'm also terribly irritated by people who can't seem to face reality: you ain't ever gonna be no rock star. Its lame to see a 50ish guy with long hair in leather chaps acting like a badass. Its not cool to just keep pretending one of these days, its gonna happen, we're gonna be BIG.

But it did happen: these guys are big. They just kept shooting their little shots and they managed, after 30odd years of trying, to get the attention of the right person at the right time. Check 'em out -- '09 alone brought them a movie, tour, book and CD release. They had a dream and kept dreaming it, and now they have a dream come true. Lips even said so, he said he didn't take it lightly, to be on stage in Philadelphia. He said he'd been waiting his whole life for that moment and was so grateful to us all, that he'd happily shake every one's hand after the show.

My main passion in life is looking really cute. That's not something I'm likely to garner into any career or even fifteen minutes of fame. It does make me happy to see others succeed tho, and I suppose in a way that's just as important. I was happy to support Mike & Mark in their efforts a decade or so ago. I'm glad to play DJPE's music in the lobby here at work. Still, it would be nice to have something bigger than myself to live for. I'll work on finding my passion this year. Passion will be the target, & I'll keep shooting.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I don't care about Haiti

Call me a jerk, but I don't care about Haiti. I don't even care that you're thinking I'm a jerk because I admitted it. I feel bad that it happened, its shame and all, but I just shrug and f5 my Twitter.

9/11, Katrina, the tsunami... When these types of disasters happen, the number of people dead is just staggering. Its too much for me to ponder: I can feel bad for my friend Rachel who's father died Wednesday, but how can I empathize with 100,000 families? I feel no more grief for 2 people than I do for 2,000 or 2 million.

9/11 was a man-made disater, caused by "evil-doers," but Haiti's earthquake was what we'd call "an act of God," God delivered that evil onto the people of Haiti. Believers then says they will pray for the victims, but God just showed he has no concern for these people, how could the prayers of some strangers in their behalf possibly sway God? and to what end? The deed is done.

I didn't offer to pray for Rachel or her father. I told her I was sorry it happened, and offered to listen. I touched her arm and made eye contact. I try to smile when I see her, and let her lead the conversation where she wants it to go. That's as much as I can do. I can't do that for a Haitian on the other side of the globe. I feel for Rachel because she's here & I can relate to losing a dad, but I have no frame of reference for a disaster.

Some people will pretend a disaster -- man made or act of God -- isn't really an evil. They'll spin it to be 'an opportunity for others to be charitible' or some other platitude. "When God closes a door, he opens a window." Others will crumble, "its just not fair!", and will become angry at God and the hand they've been dealt.

We're nothing but the sum of experiences, both our own & those we witness. We draw conclusions based on the patterns and commonalities between the two, that's how we reason. When a disaster strikes, its like a finger toppling the dominos and one by one, all our patterns & conclusions are shifted: the big picture changes. Sometimes even the most reasonable among us have trouble coping with those changes, but just as often, we feel desensitized.

Rachel keeps saying she feels numb. I can relate.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday round up

What a fun, funny, emotional day.

We have 6 basic emotions -- joy, fear, anger, suprise, disgust, & sadness. Today I read about 5 more that are somewhat deeper but no less important. These are elevation, interest, gratitude, pride, & confusion.

Of course there are more... like fiero, the pride you feel in accomplishing something just for yourself... which I imagine is what Ray Comfort is feeling these days, having desecrated Darwin's On The Origins for $4.99 a copy...

... or ennui, a form of intellectual boredom I know all too well...

... or schadenfreude!!! I love schadenfreude, tho I don't feel it often. Its the evil glee you get when learning of the misfortune of others. I didn't feel it today, but Pat Robertson did. He got all schadenfreuden while talking about the disaster in Haiti (or Hay-shuh, as he calls it).

BFF Tiff & I had a long chat today about things that have been on our mind this past year, namely the idea of abandonment & betrayal. Betrayal isn't an emotion itself, but can lead to most of the basic: fear, anger, sadness, and far too often disgust with oneself. Helplessness is a natural outcome of being betrayed, and some, like Tiff, will push against that feeling to revenge. Its the classic story: victim becomes victimizer, and we're back to schadenfreude! (I think that's why I like her so much, I admire her agressiveness in life, and feel joy by proxy in her schadenfreude.)

I'm not emotional enough lately.

Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is the most important. ~~Carl Reiner

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Morality by Aphorisms

Dr Shermer posted a blog yesterday on the Ask-First principle, his take on the Golden Rule. He thinks one should go beyond just "do unto others," because sometimes the "others" wouldn't want to be done unto like you would. The Ask-First principle is that you should ask yourself, will the recipient of this action like it as much as I would? Said another way, don't do things to people you wouldn't want them to do to you.

Now while I agree we do have some moral obligations to one another, and of course its in every one's best interest to live utilizing the highest moral principles one has understanding of, lately I'm finding essays like this tiring. I'm tired of moral aphorisms.

I'm tired of thinking about every little thing I do or say... and according to what I've learned from Dr S, I shouldn't have to.

Every action we do either affects someone, or is dealing with how someone has affected us, (and oftentimes both). Our actions are driven by our beliefs, and our beliefs are driven by the patterns we draw --the values we learn-- from our experiences. So if we're driven by the patterns, and we're relatively intelligent, our guts should do the moralizing for us.

All opinion is subjective: there is no objective morality. So to make these rules for morality is nothing but mental exercise, intellectual masturbation. One must work from one's own experience base when making decisions. The patterns, not the aphorisms will always win out.

That being said, we are the animals that have knowledge of good & evil, we experience both. We find ourselves alive, and with the right to do anything no one else can stop us from doing. While we know that our actions have consequences, we are free to do as we chose.

As social animals, we've evolved to instinctively know that we should do good by one another. We generally, unconsciously, don't do what we know to be wrong. If we do something we know is wrong --that will have negative impacts on ourselves or others -- most people feel guilty, like they're accruing a debt to society that sooner or later will be paid back.

As Dr S's blog, Catch 22, the book of Genesis & the law of karma show, the sticky-wicket is knowledge. If we don't know an act is wrong, and we do it, and the consequences of our actions do indeed have a negative effect on ourselves or another, then we learn a new pattern. We learn something about our environment from which we can make predictions that will aid in our (in this case, social) survival, and that's a good thing. That's natural selection in action.

Therefore its crucial to our personal evolution that we sometimes experience evil. I'm done pre-analyzing every thought I want to verbalize. Sometimes the lines you let rip are "wrong" and yet are just what that person needs to hear. One might even say that taking on the challenge of saying the "wrong" thing at the "right" moment is far more noble a deed than taking the moral high-road as it will give the other person reason to stop and think. If the unexamined life is not worth living, being a bitch once in a while might just save some one from intellectual death.

This is what I'm going to call the Suzy Brown principle: sometimes you have to be bad just so you know you're alive.