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MylesK [userpic]

Things I Don't Think About 2

July 7th, 2014 (09:27 pm)

Beatrice once sent me a paper reporting that computer scientists had succeed, for a time period measured in a fraction of a second, in creating artificial space-time. This innovation indicates that, once sufficient memory and computational power is achieved, we will be able to recreate the universe inside a computer.

It also introduces the possibility that we might already be living inside a computer-generated universe which is fooling us all in believing that it is only 2014. The structure of that tiny bit of artificial space time has given computer scientists a clue about what to look for in our universe to determine if what we take to be reality is really real or not.

I sometimes think that I exist in a metaphorical artificial space-time that does not include the all aspects of reality. In my last post, I mentioned how I have no way of knowing what its like to be a man because I have only ever been one and can't describe what it is like. So much of existence is fundamentally unknowable like that. Not only can I not know what it is like to be a woman, I can't know what it's like to be a particular woman.

"It must feel normal," I once said aloud, in response to nothing. I had been thinking about this point in the presence of a beautiful woman and just spoke out loud.

"What does?" she asked.

"I was wondering what it must feel like to be as beautiful as you and reckoned that it must feel normal to you. It must feel pretty much the same as what being me feels like to me. It's just... normal."

"You're crazy, man," she said.
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MylesK [userpic]

Things I Don't Think About 1

July 1st, 2014 (01:45 pm)

I have been thinking about a post about #notallmen, but I can't write about it because I don't actually know what #notallmen is about. Based on some of my Facebook friend's posts, I have a set of very detailed assumptions about what it is about, but I have yet to actually consult anything primary regarding the concept. 

Like many commenters, I re-started thinking about how men objectify women following the shootings by Elliot Rodger in Santa Barbara. My thinking has been strongly influenced by Ken Wilbur's book A Brief History of Everything which introduced me to the field evolutionary psychology (EP); the study of the effects of biological evolution on psychological traits.  EP explores how our biology, shaped by evolutionary pressures (natural selection), manifests itself in certain psychological ways. 

For example, offspring of attentive females tended to survive while babies born to neglectful women did not. The hormone oxytocin fosters both the emotions and the behaviors associated with bonding and relationships. High concentrations of oxytocin with its driving message, "bond with it", has been adaptive since the orgins of our species and remains so in contemporary culture. 

Another behavioral hormone is testosterone. Unlike oxytocin's driving message, "bond with it", testosterone has a binary program: fuck it/kill it. 

At first blush, "fuck it/kill it" seems fundamentally maladaptive. But if you consider the male dating environment 70,000 years ago it can seem a little more sensible. A 20-something male with a probable 30 year life span was lucky to catch a glimpse of a viable female, and even then, she would likely be under the guardianship of another male. If you were going to keep your genes moving forward in time, you would have to act fast. Desire the female enough to risk life and limb, fight her guardian to win, mate. Killing the gatekeeper to your having sex was evolutionarily beneficial some time ago, but circumstances have changed.

For one, the gatekeeper is no longer a separate, other man. This convergence probably causes at least some short-circuitry in hormone-based thinking. 

This isn't in any way an apology or justification for the Elliot Rodgers and anti-feminists of the world. I'm actually not sure what my point is, exactly.

I have been thinking about the idea that there are things that I do not think about; that there are things that I am almost incapable of thinking about because they are beyond the domain of my imagination.

Wilbur calls existing with testosterone "a biological nightmare" which women can barely imagine, except for those who are injected with it for medical purposes; one of whom begged, "please, can't you make it stop?"

No one knows what it's like to be a man. Women don't know because they are not men. Men don't know because it is the only existence they do know and, hence, have nothing to compare it to. No one knows what it is like.  



MylesK [userpic]

Hannibal, Episode 13

June 23rd, 2014 (09:42 pm)

I have over due stories; blog posts that I haul around in my mind and intend to write as soon as I get home, but after cooking and cleaning and unwinding a bit, all I do is unwind all the way and crash.

One story is about the Episode 13 of NBC's Hannibal television series.

June 5th was Mississippi Malik's birthday and Beatrice Cassidy Adams was burning up my Blackberry on the afternoon of Saturday, June 7 urging me to come over to Malik's place for BBQ and drinks to belatedly observe the occasion. However, it was also the same afternoon I'd driven home from Calgary via Ponoka after having observed the 20th anniversary of the Clean Air Strategic Alliance and the 34th annual general meeting of the Alberta Environmental Network respectively. In other words, I was too tired.

Beatrice's SMS dialogue touched on several points why I should ignore my fatigue and come over anyways; one of which was that Malik was watching Hannibal on Netflix, and as I had regularly complained that no one else I knew seemed to be watching the show, I could do so with him and discuss it.

My counter proposal was that I had recently purchased a bottle of

and that the following weekend, they should come over to St. Mark's and we'll drink lowland scotch whisky and watch whichever episode of Hannibal Malik was ready for next. Beatrice reluctantly accepted the proposition.

Later in the week I was on GoogleChat with the two of them confirming the invitation.

"We need to cook some fancy food with it," Malik noted. We met up the following evening at the Craft Brewery to plan. At Craft, we decided that the entree Hannibal Lecter served in Episode 6, clay-roasted thigh, would be the basis of our menu, though we'd likely use pork instead of Eddie Izzard. I was assigned the appetizer of prosciutto roses and watermelon, Malik would handle the main course, and Beatrice was responsible for a vegetable and "some dessert with meat in it."

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MylesK [userpic]

Terry of the Turkey Floor

June 12th, 2014 (07:22 am)

Terry Leon lives in the bachelor's suite across the hall from mine on the second floor of Gallagher House. He works night shifts at Edmonton's Lillydale factory, but on the turkey-floor he tells me. "We don't do chickens in Edmonton."

Terry is a sports fan. He loves sports. His holidays this year consisted of taking two weeks off to stay at Gallagher House in his narrow bachelor's suite with its short-bookshelves and beach towels hanging over the windows and power bars criss-crossing the floor, to watch all of the Sochi Olympics at odd hours of the day.

And hockey? Well, don't get him started on that.

"Do you like sports?" he asked me shortly after introducing himself. It might have been the third thing that he asked me. The tone of his voice made it pretty clear what he wanted my answer to be.

"Mmm," I hummed through pursed lips. "No. No, I can't say that I do."

"How about games?" he asked.

"I play poker," I offered brightly. Gambling did not seem to appeal to him.


"No, I actually don't like crib very much."

"Do you play chess?"


"But you know *how* to play chess?" he added, somewhat rhetorically. "You know how the pieces move?" I do know that much, I had to admit, and Terry immediately volunteered to buy a chess set after work the next day.

"Okay," I said. "But I don't have time to actually sit down to play full games." I proposed that we set the board up on a small table in the the hallway between our suites. I made a small card with my name on one side and Terry's name on the other. "We'll take our turns at our convenience, and then flip this card to indicated whose turn it is next."

In this way, I have been playing chess constantly since I moved to St. Mark's at Gallagher House at the beginning of February. Normally, I make two moves per day: one as I'm leaving for work in the morning, and another when I come home in the evening.
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MylesK [userpic]

Working in the Space Between Stimulus and Response

May 25th, 2014 (04:45 pm)

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Viktor E. Frankl

This quote appeared in my Facebook feed today and appeals to my current excogitation. I've been thinking about my emotional management for a few months now ~ questioning the wisdom of the elevation I've provided them. I've been wondering if I'm not treating them with too much importance.

When Hannah was having coping problems in the early years of our marriage, I would reference [John Hiller, I think. Will check] who argued that as long as our culture exalts being comfortable and anxiety-free as life's highest purpose, our society will be plagued with addictions, depression, and related problems.

"Is there anything in your life," I would ask Hannah, "that is more important than how you feel?" Serving something greater than one's self is not only a virtue, but it creates a reason to tolerate discomfort and anxiety and work through them.

I have a greater liberty now to indulge my emotions than many people I think. Indeed, I sense that I have the same liberty to indulge them as any comfortably retired person. The number of things that are more important than how I feel seems to becoming fewer. And I sense that I am becoming less stable as a result of it.

When the thought of a task displeases me, I procrastinate. The thought of the task is the stimulus, and I seem to surrender to the response: avoid it. Delay it.

This is of my own design, of course. Or rather, this is my own default. I am the one who links cognitive content to the emotional response to create these things called values. This work occurs in Viktor Frankl's space.

I need to find the mental connection between the task at hand, and something that is more important than how I feel.

Last night was the fourth semi-annual scotch whiskey tasting night on the 74th Avenue Crescent. Hosted by Robin Cleator and Ken Bond, it was a congregation of gentlemen and an equal number of speyside scotch whiskeys, some of which were astonishingly smooth. Dangerously smooth, even. I fear the time that Beatrice, Malik, and I are left alone with a bottle of

for that will be an unpredictable night. (I like that Brian Cox is the Youtube tutor of Scottish pronunciations. He continues to be my favourite Hannibal Lecter.)

MylesK [userpic]

Garden 2014

May 24th, 2014 (09:49 am)

Last weekend was the Victoria Day long weekend in Canada; a traditional, though not necessarily rational, time to start gardening.

It's become a practise for me to pack my laundry and head to the Main House to wash my clothes in our Sears Kenmore Front Loading washing machine, while Hannah and I shop for groceries at the Calgary Trail Save-On-Foods store. But being the May Long Weekend, I also cleaned up the Main House garden, bagging debris, weeding, and raking the soil.

It's been almost four months of living by myself at St. Mark's at Gallagher House. And it continues to be fascinating. As I mentioned in the post, The Short Game, for the first time in my life last week I asked a woman who was a complete stranger to me to meet me socially. Given the uncharacteristically short investment I had in our relationship to that point, making my proposition to her was stunningly easy and has produced high return on investment despite her apparent non-acceptance.

"So this is what the short game is like," I thought to myself almost immediately, recalling several conversations with Amandi Khera mostly contrasting my life-long use of long-game strategies in relationships with the short-game tactics of mutual friends of ours, including even Amandi herself.

Amandi tried to convey to me how sometimes just ten minutes of anyone's attention was enough to make her feel better. Even happy. In my memory, or imagination, I see Amandi on a passenger train, deciding to strike up a conversation with a young man sitting across from her ~ who she has no expectations of ever seeing ever again.

And it was remarkable how we "read" the world through our own ideas like this. When we were at Coyote Ugly in Las Vegas 2010, I approached a blonde bartender in brown leather pants who proceeded to remove my tie and hang it from a rail hanging from the ceiling above her head. Amandi had laughed at that, thinking how it seemed like I was getting into the short-game mode by seeking out a few minutes of a hot woman's attention, when in my mind, I was thinking about how leaving my tie in that bar was like anchoring that night in time, and it would be a touchstone for Amandi and I for the rest of our lives.
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MylesK [userpic]

The Quality of the Light

May 21st, 2014 (07:09 pm)

There is a Hugh's Petroleum gas station at the corner of 95th street and 102nd avenue that I often pass en-route to St. Mark's from the Main House. It is just a gas station. I've purchased gas there once, a transaction remarkable only for the fact that the cashier gave me a 3-cents per litre discount for no reason whatsoever.

I have been thinking about this post for what feels like a long time now. I passed the Hugh's Petroleum after nightfall a few weeks ago, and something about the quality of the fluorescent light illuminating the station reminded me of passing through Kingman, Arizona on a night drive to Las Vegas from the Grand Canyon with Amandi Khera, May 5th, 2010. Four years ago, nearly to the day.

There really are no similarities between this Edmonton gas station and that anonymous place alongside Historic Route 66 where we pulled in for a smoke break and coffee. And by the time we got there, Amandi and I must have exhausted our conversation for the day as weren't discussing anything memorable. Everything I can remember talking about on that stretch of our road trip I've already chronicled in elsewhere in this blog.

But something about that blue-white light in the darkness put me in the mood I was in when I parked our rental car and glanced across the highway at a truck stop, while Amandi ambled across the asphalt smoking a cigarette.

All I have to say is that we were there together.

MylesK [userpic]

The Short Game

May 21st, 2014 (07:18 am)

Last Thursday morning the Environmental Law Centre hosted its second annual "learning breakfast" in a ballroom at the Chateau Lacombe. Cutely named, "Green Regs and Ham", about a hundred of us sat around 8-top banquet tables, dining on scrambled eggs and thin ham slices, listening to 3 elected officials discuss the challenges municipalities face on environmental issues. I was reminded about the oratory excellence of our Mayor, Don Iveson.

At Table 17 sat myself and two colleagues from Policy Division, a UofA student, and Angela Silk. Angela reminded me of Grace Kelly, more for her poise and glamour than physical similarity. She wore a tan jacket with a white blouse and diamond teardrop ear-rings. She was brightly out-going and introduced herself to everyone at the table. Angela sat to my immediate right so when full table conversation broke down, we began conversing with each other.

I explained my work to her. She commented that my eyes light up when I talk about it. She is newly back in Alberta because of illness in her family and is looking for work in the field of environmental law, but for the past ten years, Angela has been practicing law in Milan, Italy.

All table conversation stopped when the panel began. I paid good attention to the speakers, but glanced at Angela's profile from time to time. I liked her posture, and kept thinking that she was the most glamorous woman I've ever met. I imagined what it would look like to be sitting across from her in a fancy restaurant.

When the session ended, I told Angela that I am very interested in what the transition was like for her to have moved from Alberta to Italy and asked if we could meet up again. She handled my request very well, I thought, and asked for my e-mail address saying that she will contact me and we can meet for coffee.

It was the first time I have ever taken that particular action: asking a woman who is a complete stranger to go out with me. I told Beatrice over dinner at Shanghai 456 last night, "My entire life experience dating has been with women who I already knew I liked. That's what made the early going so anxious. Whatever was going to happen was already happening, and I had this stake in an imaginary future together that was jeopardized anytime I made a mistake. I've always played the long-game.

"But with Angela, I just had to successfully manage the next five minutes, and the only imaginary future at risk was dinner!" It didn't go perfectly as she took my e-mail address and I haven't yet heard from her, but I at least landed it. "I think I have a sense of what the short game is like," I told Beatrice. "It was cool. I can't wait to try it again."

MylesK [userpic]

Almost 14 years ago now

May 19th, 2014 (11:29 am)

Even before the story of Alex and Donna Voutsinas, I've wondered about the people in the background of travel photos. I have wondered both about the faces captured in my own pictures, and conversely, wondered about how many strangers have my picture filed away in their visual mementos.

I know for certain that an American soldier has a shot of the two of us together at the Las Vegas Coyote Ugly. Also, a brunnette German girl has a picture of the two of us on the Champs-Elysées by the statue of Cassandra Under the Protection of Pallas Athena. I also remember her denim jacket and sparkle lip gloss.

I suspect that there will one day be a neurological explanation for the delight I feel thinking about this kind of thing. Some functional MRI study will reveal that recollecting obscure events, especially ones shared with other people, lights up the mesolimbic system like the Las Vegas Strip and this mnemophilic hobby of my will acquire a scientific explanation.

Another plaform for this hobby are my journals which, as they extend ever further back in time, contain an increasing quantity of forgotten information. While browsing for a clipping from an old Ann Landers advice column this morning, I happened across this completely forgotten notation:

I had a dream about Molly Turnbull* on [May 26, 2000, while] bunked on the scout-camp sized beds in the Silver Creek dormitory. It was one of those repressed sexual dreams - where we were sharing a snack of shredded beef meat-balls while not wearing very much in the way of clothing.

That's the entire reference. It makes me laugh.

MylesK [userpic]

The Factors of Production

May 13th, 2014 (11:14 am)

According to Karl Marx, the phrase means of production refers only to the tangible elements required to create wealth; the land, the machines, the factories, etc. It does not include labour: the people. When speaking of all the required elements, including people, they are collectively referred to as the factors of production.

"If this were a machine," I have asked, during meetings with the Canada West Foundation, of the Clean Air Strategic Alliance, of my work colleagues when considering the idea of social licence to operate, "if this were a machine, what would it make?" In other words, when we consider the factors of production of the various organizations I participate in, what kind of tangible and intangible wealth is produced?

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