Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cloud Blooms and Algorithms

Cloud Blooms and Algorithms

“Accept nothing as factual unless it makes sense, logically.”

First of all we very frequently, most of us anyway, have a knee-jerk reaction of fear of the mere word “algorithm”.  And yet, and yet, an algorithm is honestly a very simple concept.  All it means is that using a system of symbols, symbols we can literally just make up, to explain a function.  The function can be honestly, anything!  Anything!  Just an idea that gets a bit complex to put together in prose. 
An algorithm is like the rendering, the formula (whatever you might call it) of a molecule, or even better a compound.  The scientific representations of elements are all based on Latin – making the whole scientific study universally understood (no need to get into all of that).  Most of the international scientific community is essentially based on various Latin, and some Greek, nomenclature.  There is really no justification in doing this; it is just the way it all was first written down and it stuck.
Even the Chinese, who were first on the scene with most of this stuff, use the Latin and Greek – now?  Why because they have to.  The Chinese were far advanced of any European scientific community with hundreds of innovations.  They just kept everything in-country; wouldn’t let anybody in, wouldn’t let anything out.  By the time they opened up to the rest of the world, a lot of stuff was pretty much carved in stone.  They were stuck.  If you want to be part of the rest of the world, ya gotta do it however the majority are already doing it.  Being a very pragmatic culture, they got in line.
So some years ago I got interested in calculus.  Through my interest and study I find that rarely do the words calculus and algorithms intersect and almost never coincide; at least in most written definitions of the words.  For instance a quick Wiki study doesn’t include both words in either text on each. 

My conjecture is that calculus (and I realize most of us also run like rabbits from the word calculus) is merely the use of algorithms in the same manner as object oriented computer programming. 

Hey! I’m already bored!  Get to it!  WTfuck?”

Please, dear reader, stick with me just a little longer.
We, my little family and I, live in an area immediately adjacent to the largest inland body of water on the plant; being the Chesapeake Bay.  This not a boast, but a geographical topographical – accepted as such, mostly – fact.  Topographically in terms of elevation changes, which can be calculated using algorithms, there is not a whole lot.  Compared to almost any mountainous region, it’s pretty flat.  However, due to the presence of so much water in relation to such a variegated landscape, we get a lot of weird weather. 

Or, seemingly minor changes in the temperature over the land, due to the prevailing winds to those slower temperature changes of various rivers, bays, inlets, marshes, vast wetlands and even some access to open ocean, the weather can go just crazy.  Being a motorcycle rider, about 50% to 70% of my travel time, I notice this; out of necessity, I notice weather changes.  A cloud bloom is pretty much just what the words combine to indicate.  As dandelions and mushrooms seem to generate overnight, in almost anyplace where conditions are even close to permitting, cloud blooms can also occur.  A clear blue sky to a crackling thunderstorm in minutes.

The presence of and the corresponding prevalence of these cloud blooms could be, fairly easily, calculated using predetermined algorithms.  Or, once it is determined that X is the result of factors Y, calculated through established patterns as objects, we get Z.  A cloud bloom.  Note: Really, don’t make me get into the details.  Think about it for a minute.  No, this isn’t algebra, since each element represents essentially massive amounts of data.  Once that data is accumulated, do we really need to repeat it?  End Note. 

The agile human mind, can observe quickly and amass objects of apparent physical conditions, compare and contrast those objects of data with other objects of data as algorithmic conclusions and perform basic calculus formulations. 
High feathery clouds spread from horizon to horizon with a steady wind – “Is it gonna rain?”  “Nah.”
Quickly blooming low level clouds with rising swirly wind – “Is it gonna rain?”  “Yup.”

Looking out the window of this coffee shop right on the Bay, I just witnessed a small cloud bloom far off to the east.  As I watched, it flattened across the bottom and turned dark.  Across a clear blue sky roughly transcribing a diagonal to the land to the northwest, a massive lightening strike.  Where I sit, not a drop of rain, the sun is shining and there is no wind whatever. 

Somehow, after all these years, I find there is an interesting analogy a person could draw from a simple knowledge of math, plus what I just witnessed nature accomplish and life itself – life as we know it, that is.  That’s just a thought though.


Just published  “Twelve Roses for Kathy – A journey on a motorcycle out of the darkness of bipolar disorder”

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Merck and Craige: Old Dogs II

Merck and Craige: Old Dogs II

So… on the first part of this bit on old dogs, I covered the groundwork for this breed; i.e. Border Collies.  Career working dogs.  Our first retiree is named Merck and he was 13 years old when he took up residence here.  This is old for most dogs.  We have had other dogs and none of them made it to thirteen.  Closest was old Max who passed at twelve.  At thirteen though Merck is still pretty spry.  He never barks and we suspect he is pretty hard of hearing.

He was a breeder, so he is what they call an in-tact male.   But at his age he doesn’t have any aggression.  Merck is the most laid back dude.  He’s maybe thirty pounds and long haired black with bright white color blazes around his neck and on his feet.  He’s a handsome devil.  And he has huge feet.  Way out of proportion for his body.  Somehow though, like the cool dude that he is, he makes it work.

Because our youngest daughter has some developmental delays and is the gentlest and most sensitive person you will ever meet, any animal guests in our house MUST be gentle and totally trustworthy.  Must not bark (a lot), bite or scratch.   Our dogs are going to get hugged and fawned over.  They have to be on board with that.  Merck-man is fine with the huggy attention, he doesn’t require it … he doesn’t seem to be emotionally dependent.  A cool guy who just wants to hang out, get fed and wander about in the woods around our rural homestead.

We grew to like Merck so much that we told the breeder lady, who also runs a business using Borders to scoot geese off of airplane runways and golf courses.  This is really the most humane and natural method of helping the birds to find safer places to nest.  Because they are bred to constantly attempt to bring wide spread groups of other animals into small dense groups, the Collies take after the birds and try to herd them together, which naturally just causes birds, who can fly, to take off.
After enough of this harassment, the birds just look for a quieter neighborhood.

This keeps them from crashing airplanes by getting sucked up into jet engines or crashing through the airplane windshield and killing the pilot.  No good.  On golf courses, yes they crap all over everything in big tubular greasy dumps.  This makes greens, fairways and cart paths very unpleasant.  Golfers don’t pay large amounts of money to wade through goose crap.  It just takes the fun out of the game, somehow.
But also golf courses tend to dump a lot of herbicides on their grass(es) to avoid nasty weed plants from ruining the postcard look of the place.  When exposed to, and often ingesting, these herbicides, the gosling chicks either don’t hatch, or they have two heads and maybe one wing.

Is affection a thing?  Is just being furry and lovable and devoted a thing?  I think it is.  I think it’s a pretty important thing to have a companion who just accepts you.  That’s it – this furry lovable animal just wants to be near you.  It likes you to stroke its fur and talk to it with returned affection.  So because the ole Merck-man was so affectionate and cool to have around, despite his weird arthritic walk and being mostly blind and mostly deaf, we wound up with taking in his work buddy, also know as Craige.  Merck and Craige had worked together for several years and had become rather inter-dependant.

However Craige is a couple of years younger than Merck and we suspect somewhere along the way, in his resumé, he had a trainer (dog worker) who wasn’t all that kind to him.  He will not allow himself to hugged around the neck.  This makes him jerk back and sulk in a corner for an hour or so.  Doesn’t bark or snarl, just quite obviously finds that gesture very uncomfortable.  However, he also seems very insecure, so he is always nudging people for petting and other forms of affection.  He insists on being in the same room as my wife, who is kind of his pack alpha – for some reason.  Not me, the male who has to carry all the luggage and move the refrigerator for Saturday cleaning. 

And, both have decided that they won’t obey me if my wife is anywhere present.  These dogs are bred and programmed to establish an alpha and that person is the one who has to give them commands.  Which is good if they are working and there are a lot of people around and especially if those other people also have dogs with them.  Our guys almost never take their eyes off my wife, she gives a command and bam! Off they go to do that command.  The only time when they will listen to me is when I take them out by myself.  Then for, at least that short time, they will do what I tell them.

Merck widdly-waddles along the dog path in his odd sort of carb-walk.  Big strangely huge feet – kind of like a dog-Hobbit –plopping twisted outward.  Even at his age with all his infirmities,  he puts off this perkiness vibe.  Kind of a perky-confidence.  As I say kind of “dude-like”.  Doesn’t really give a shit what anybody else thinks.  Craige never gets much farther away from his handler (owner-trainer-alpha) than maybe fifty feet, unless he is given the command to chase.  Then he is off like a bullet.  As soon as he has made some other animal, like a bird or squirrel or snake, take off, he looks back at the handler to find out if there is anything else for him to do.  At the command Craige come!  He trots right back.  Because often these dogs work in pairs, the handler has to use their names before each command.

All of this hardwired instinct combined with good work training, makes these old dogs a real pleasure to take out for walks.  They are too old to get in much trouble, they are bred and trained to obey commands, they respond delightfully to respect and affection.  All in all, although we may only have them for not too many more years before they pass on, they are getting a dignified retirement and they still can perform a very useful purpose; extending love and companionship for a small family that loves dogs, but just need low maintenance family members.

I don’t think there is much of a stretch to maybe extend this kind of thinking to our human culture. 


Just published  Twelve Roses for Kathy – A journey on a motorcycle out of the darkness of bipolar disorder”

Monday, July 18, 2016

Antidepressants II: The Truth

Antidepressants II: The Truth

If they worked too well, they would be illegal.

Yes, I said it.  Unless a substance is a key product produced by extremely wealthy men, somehow it seems to be sinful, wrong and its use a character flaw.  And, one can rightly assume that those extremely wealthy men control its market.  After all, an accepted measure of a person’s significance (read status) is the wealth they possess.

I am writing here, dear reader, about antidepressant medication.  First of all does antidepressant medication actually work?  Yes, yes – I am not a Doctor!!!  I have no medical certification, well that’s not totally true; when I was a National Ski Patroller I was certified in EMT (and Winter Emergency Medical Response, as an additional bit of training).  But, I have let all that lapse years ago.  (Another story). Other than a shitload of reading and research and actually living with this condition, I am in no way qualified to say anything about the medical treatment of depression or other mental aberrations. 

My answer – YES – ANTIDRESSANT MEDICATION DOES WORK – for me.  The medication I am prescribed by my licensed Psychiatrist, does work.  BUT, always a modifier, but, what, we as persons diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder has neural processing cross-wiring, hormonal issues, that are remediated by certain chemical re-balancing agents.  In other words, if you try to put a big corrective wedge in the shoe of a person who does not have a leg length issue, they are going to walk really funny, if they can walk at all with that correction.

In the sports world it is known as “handicapping”.   The calculation of a sports handicap can be really complex, so we won’t get into that too much.  But the principle is that in order to keep a competitive sport truly competitive, or actually interesting, a certain number of points (or some other element) are automatically added to the score, time, distance –whatever – of a participant.  An example would be if I average 150 points every game I bowl, and I am in a Senior Citizen Bowling League and I am a male and the best bowler in my category averages 200, my handicap would be 50 points.  If I was female, it might be 60 points.  And so on.

Now it is up to me to try and bring my handicap to the lowest number I can because all my stupid buddies are more concerned with my handicap than my actual  average.  Enough of that.  It all just means, in an effort to be fair, some people need an edge to be even near with the others against whom they compete.  What this means is – an extreme example – if you are not diabetic and you are given the same amount of insulin a diabetic person needs to be nearly normal, it can kill you.

Again, in other words, ALL antidepressant medications do – and this is very carefully calculated – is bring the brain neural tissue hormonal balance of the affected person just a bit closer to “bubble level” (read: normal).  They are not made to get you high.  I repeat; they are not made to get you high, or bring on some wonderful world of butter and butterflies and “Sgt. Pepper’s Yellow Submarine” world.  Just calculated to help a person not feel like they have buckets of concrete on each foot and have dark dark gray glasses somehow welded to their faces.  Antidepressants do not make you feel wonderful, they just balance the brain chemistry so a person can cope on a level near what most everyone else has to cope with. 


My eyeglasses, corrective lenses, don’t give me super-vision.  They just, basically, allow me to pass my driver’s license vision test.  When you take over-the-counter aspiring to get rid of a headache, you just forget you have a headache – you don’t become Einstein.  Taking a medication that just simply will allow you a few hours when you don’t feel like jumping off a high bridge, is not getting high. 

The underlying causes, be they life experiences, genetic issues or whatever else might be responsible for setting a particular brain to wobble, are far more complex than is socially and culturally understood – at this time in human history.  I have said for many years, “Just because somebody invents a better microscope doesn’t mean that all of a sudden there are more small things.”  The human life experience is, at present, many factors more complex than ever in our evolutionary history.  Right from the instant of birth, the human life experience is totally different than ever before – I mean totally. 

It can take months for long-term trained and schooled experts to properly match a program of medication, or combination of medications, to alleviate severe neurological issues a person may be experiencing.  Months!!!  And then!  Out of the blue that person’s body adapts and that program of medication stops working!

So, when I say this is complex, I mean we are dealing with the most powerful tool all knowledge, evolution and accumulated human experience and history has EVER determined to exist.  And, that is, of course, the human brain.

… to be continued …


Just published  Twelve Roses for Kathy – A journey on a motorcycle out of the darkness of bipolar disorder”