Monday, September 18, 2017


--- What's "para" about "paranormal" ---

There are so many assumptions that humanity makes from ages past but has yet to test. Our attitude toward the other occupants of this planet are based on untested assumptions. In the distant past, our method was to base our understanding on "what works" and not try to understand why it works. That is why science appeared in the 1500s, as a tool to understand.

But now I'm sliding into a region of the Dewey Decimal System rife with assumptions, where we are still quite satisfied with "what works" without thinking to question where we got our knowledge or even if, in fact, it actually does work or not. Assumptions:

The paranormal is "para". "Para-" means "beside, beyond", certainly "outside". Therapists occasionally encounter cases that include elements that place them in a quandary as to how to proceed and they call those elements "AEs' or "anomalous experiences". I lived in Selma, Alabama for 20 years, one of the most haunted cities in the United States and the majority of people who have lived there for any time have had an experience with ghosts. I have lived in a haunted house (not by choice but by pure chance, whatever that is) and every city I have lived in has had one or more "haunted houses" within their borders. The paranormal is certainly not infrequent. What's "para" about the paranormal?

The supernatural, by etymology and, I would assume, by definition, outside of nature, apart from creation. I guess the common assumption that such things as ghosts, angels, demons, God or gods, transdimensional portals, etc. are the product of overactive imaginations  would lend credence to the idea for, if these things do not really exist, then certainly they would be outside of our existence; but the frequency of experiences of people with these unaccountable (and inconvenient) entities and phenomenon lead me to suspect that just saying "it doesn't exist" doesn't nearly cover it. But wholly other? I should think not. Just because we don't understand something (and it looks like we've put woefully inadequate effort into such understanding) does not mean it's outside of the nature we all accept as "our nature". What's "super" about the supernatural?

Everyone knows what a ghost is - it's what's left of a dead person after they've been dispossessed of their body. But I've never seen anything that would move that bit of information from the realm of assumption into the kingdom of founded knowledge. In fact, as many people who have experienced ghosts, I haven't met with a convincing explanation yet. I've run into a few things that could make sense, but without any substantive support.

Let me try to enumerate the official list of entities acknowledged as real in the Christian church, which seems to be the authority in the Western world. Starting at the top:

God
Angels
Humans
Animals
Plants
Demons
maybe add devils and their master, Satan.

I think that's all. Biologists added a few more kingdoms of life - slime molds, bacteria, extremophiles, and the like.

But is that all? I've studied the Bible for over 40 years and I can't even see where it supports that. As I have mentioned I many such conversations, the Bible doesn't talk about plumbers, llamas, Chinese, Black folks (well, it might have, but certainly not) Australian Aborigines - all of which existed in Biblical times. Bottom line, just because the Bible doesn't mention it, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. And, shockingly, just because scientists haven't mentioned it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. E. O. Wilson in his The Future of Life predicts that by 2100, up to half of the species currently on our planet will be gone, many, if not most, without even having been recognized by science.

You can't use Carl Sagan's vaunted "exceptional claim clause" either. There seems to be nothing exceptional about ghosts.

So, without apology, I will soon be exploring the assumed and the maybe not so exceptional about the Denver area and I will be encouraging lifelong learners everywhere to go boldly where no lifelong learner....oh forget the Star Trek thing and go out and enjoy yourselves - and stay safe.



--- Notes on wisdom ---

The habit of viewing life as a whole is an essential part both of wisdom and of true morality, and is one of the things which ought to be encouraged in education. Consistent purpose is not enough to make life happy, but it is an almost indispensable condition of a happy life. And consistent purpose embodies itself mainly in work.

Bertrand Russell

A philosophy of wisdom is touchy. Maybe more than any other philosophical topic, you can answer "What is wisdom?" by "It's a word."

Specifically, the root "wise" is an old English word (actually and Old English word) meaning "a way of proceeding". And, of course, it looks like ancient peoples were more serious about their languages and packed more into their words than we do today. "Way" meant more than a direction. It was a path in life (as, for example, "The Way"). So wisdom is a way of life. Whatever it is, it's not just something you know.

Knowledge can be incidental or trivial - not wisdom, but I believe that there is a relationship between the two. Knowledge is the information you have in your head that seems to work as a reasonable approximation for reality. Wisdom is the skill of using that knowledge to build a "good life" (and I've talked elsewhere about "good life" and I'm sure I will again - I'm looking forward to an article on "moral value").

Russell brought up a few points on what constitutes wisdom, though. It is holistic. It tells you where any particular fact fits into the larger scheme of things, and particular the larger scheme of your life. Is brushing your teeth wise? Well, maybe not, but understanding the consequences of doing so or not doing so in your social life and, further, the effects on your ability to get important concepts across to other and, so, your religious, scientific, or political life - certainly - in that wisdom is the ability to sense the web of causality in which we all sit and to navigate it to benefit ourselves and the world around us.

One debate about wisdom is whether it can be taught or not. Personally, I believe that the ability to develop wisdom is inherent in thinking beings. Our brains, as I have said before, are incredible pattern processors and wisdom is a pattern analysis skill. Wisdom allows us to take the massive body of knowledge in our minds and extract meaningful information that can constitute a "way" of life. Much of it is subconscious, which may be why many think it cannot be taught. But it's more of a habit than a knowing. It's a philosophical pursuit. After all, "philosophy" means "love of wisdom". And I believe that a love of wisdom can be instilled early in growing minds as a habit of curiosity, wonder, and love of life and nature. We learn to hate by being bombarded by the hostilities and unfairness perpetrated on us by, well, mostly by others like ourselves. We could just as easily be shown the beauty and great-heartedness of our fellow creatures as we mature.

And work, far from being the bane of humanity, gives us the laboratory we need to see how our knowledge works in real life - the way to finely hone our ability to see the webs of life and the outcomes of our decisions in a real life environment.

Again, our lives are like a garden. The work we put into them will determine the beauty, joy, and material benefit that we get out of them. And we all profit or none of us do - that is wisdom.



Saturday, September 2, 2017


--- Healths ---

When I was a kid, we had health classes - walk on the side of the street facing traffic, don't eat too much sugar, that kind of stuff. Back then, we could talk to strangers and, of course, people who weren't adult never had sex (oh, of course not).

Sex and drug education came around as I was about half way through high school and, of course, I had already heard all of it (in some version or another) from my peers. And films like Reefer Madness convinced me that the adults had no clue. We had lots of films showing, gruesomely, what would happen if we did not drive responsibly. It was like going to the weekend matinee horror flicks!

But President Kennedy had determined that America would be physically fit so everyone had physical education in high school, which consisted of picking up cigarette butts around the high school and putting up with the jocks bullying. At least back then kids didn't often kill each other or drive people to suicide.

In the 60s, President Kennedy had demonstrated a commitment to the physical fitness of Americans. Due to his programs, by the time I entered college, institutes of higher learning required students to take a certain number of physically demanding physical education courses and a certain number of "leisure" recreation courses. Of the three courses I flunked in college, one, golf, was in the latter category. Regardless, I figure it was a good idea. America was getting flabby.

The problem is that physical fitness isn't the only kind. When I was growing up, when a coach was confronted with bullying, the most common response was, "Boys will be boys." If the coaches' ideas were that bullying was age appropriate, they were not mentally fit. If the bullies' only source of self-satisfaction was to have the power over weaker people so as to make them miserable (and, of course, to get the prime breeding stock), then they were not emotionally fit. And if the people they picked on were not equipped to deal with the bullying, they were not socially fit. And I mean "fit" in the same terms as "physically fit" - having the equipment and strategies to fit into the environment - to survive.

Physical fitness isn't the only health issue. I recognize five domains of health - physical, emotional (which relates to the barriers between mind and body), mental (which deals with problem solving), environmental (which addresses the barrier between self and other), and spiritual (which deals with the ability to "step outside" oneself and get a realistic understanding of how the world works without self-serving biases and agendas).

The famous Robbers Cave experiment of Muzafer Sherif underscored the idea that, once groups were separated by group affiliation, the only way to bring them back together was by presenting them with a common enemy (you should look up the Robbers Cave experiment). Talk about a horror story.... American politicians have always known that. If you want to manipulate a large mass of people, give them something to fear.

So, why is bullying, mass and serial murder, xenophobia, and police brutality such an issue in "the Greatest Country on Earth"? I honestly believe that we don't know how to deal with stress, self-image, relationships, our environment...

We favor completely inappropriate strategies to deal with our problems. Every kid, at leasts in high school, should be required to study Eric Berne's The Games People Play.

We might be physically healthy (and we're slipping at that. JFK, come back!), but we have never been emotionally, mentally, environmentally, or spiritually healthy and nightly news (I guess, now, Internet news) continue to give ample evidence of that.



--- Notes on science ---

The laws formulated by science... possess only a Platonic sort of reality. They are more real, if you will, than the facts themselves, because they are more permanent, trustworthy, and pervasive; but at the same time they are, if you will, not real at all, because they are incompatible with immediacy and alien to brute existence.

George Santayana

Science doesn't provide knowledge of reality; it provides models.

A particular danger to researchers is reification, the confusion of concepts with reality. The word isn't the referent. The concept isn't the reality. No matter how accurate a concept is in representing reality, it can never characterize the whole of a real thing.

And that's not a problem. I have heard that, when a child ask, wonderingly of Abraham Lincoln's height, how long his legs were, he answered, "Long enough to reach the ground." Well, our models are not perfect but they're good enough to help us predict how things will happen and understand how things work. That's what models are for.

Science allows us to construct reliable and valid models of a consistent reality that we all can share. Beyond that we can not go, nor do we need to, as long as we do not confuse what is in our heads with what is in the world.


Monday, August 21, 2017

I tossed around whether to blog the eclipse or not. I'm not planning to deal with astronomy until 2019, but I took some pretty decent photos so I caved.

Denver was in the area of about 90% eclipse, so it was pretty nice. A few of the tribe were planning to go to the path of totality in Wyoming but didn't get to, so we had a yard party.

I set up my cell phone on a tripod with a #14 welder filter over the aperture and took the following photos.













The sun, filtering through the fir tree in the back yard also produced some nice pinhole effects.




And there was some nice iridescence in the high cirrus clouds moving into the area, but it didn't come out very well on the photos.




Still, it was a nice day with family and the last total solar eclipse that I'm likely to see in this lifetime.

I'll probably review these photographs in more detail in a couple of years.

Monday, August 14, 2017


--- Notes on logic and mathematics ---

Nature cares nothing for logic, our human logic: she has her own, which we do not recognize and do not acknowledge until we are crushed under its wheel.

Ivan Turgenev

Well, maybe not quite so negative. I don't think Nature is waiting out there to crush us under wheels, but I have said that I don't believe that Nature's primary purpose is not our convenience, so you should watch where you step.

But I don't see logic "out there". Logic characterizes reality to some extent but I've said over and over how "the word isn't the thing" and it's dangerous to forget it. Logic (and mathematics, concepts, models) is a language that we use to understand how things work in the world, and it is a very useful tool as long as we keep a firm hold on it's limitations. It is not the be all and end all of analysis. It will not allow us to formulate all knowledge (as the logical positivists hoped).

Our binary Western logic isn't even complete. There are things that doesn't fit into a nice, neat dichotomous scheme - true/false, extant/nonextant. For instance, my favorite example - the circle (Plato preferred the right triangle - whatever). It doesn't exist - it cannot exist. It's a curve which is everywhere equidistant to a single point, but such a curve would have no width. But so much of our society is built on a circle. Architectural designs, machines, symbols (anybody ever been in the winner's circle or sat in a support group?), so many circles! They don't exist but they certainly affect society as if they did. Circles exist powerfully in our minds. They exist as information, something that is nonexistence-in-existence. Eastern logic recognizes many categories of existence and can deal with categories such as information better than we can in the West.

Logic and mathematics are languages composed of words. They don't exist out there but are powerful tools of the mind to span the dimensions of reality.



Wednesday, August 9, 2017


--- Intelligence 7 ---

Yolanda U. Trapps article "Multiple Intelligences: The Learning Process in Our Students" is a decent and brief introduction to modern education. For those who associate "modern education" with the kind decried by C. S. Lewis in many of his works, this ain't it. This is more modern.

Actually, if you want a real update, The Teaching Company has a couple of lecture series. "The Art of Teaching: Best Practices From a Master Educator" presented by Patrick N. Allitt, and "How We Learn" presented by Monisha Pasupathi, will get you up to speed, but those will take you a couple of weeks, at least.

The exercises described at the end of the module are for classroom activities but they might suggest some interesting adventures. If you've never visited a nursing home, You might get permission to go to one and record some life stories. Old folks can be fascinating, and many of them love telling stories. You may even have some elderly family members that would like to tell you some tales. All the ones in my family are long gone and I sorta miss them. Grab the chance before they're gone.

There are actually organizations that invite you to take part in their adventures to record life stories, such as StoryCorps (https://storycorps.org/). You might just find out that that's your thing.

Awhile back, I tried to learn some Spanish. We have a large Hispanic population in the area and I figured it might be nice to be able to talk to some of my neighbors in their own tongue. I was devastatingly unsuccessful. I did learn that age interferes with learning new languages, but one of the exercises in this article gave me an idea. I've also wanted to brush up on my American Sign Language and I might have a better run if I combine the two goals. The act of internalizing signs might be paired with foreign vocabulary to make them both stick. The problem I had with Spanish was that, a week after I had learned a set of words, and was learning new words, I found that the older set was just, flat gone.

Next year, I plan to be looking at social sciences and languages in the area, and this might be a great adventure for me to take on. Starting now will give be a running start and I can let you know how I do.

Thomas O. Merritt's "A Multiple Intelligence Approach to the Physiology of the Brain and How Middle School Students Learn" is a good review of the structures in the brain that house the different "intelligences" outlined by Howard Gardner. He suggests looking at diagrams of the lobes of the brain (actually, all you have to do is browse "brain" in Google Images) and dissecting a cow brain - eh, you might or might not want to do that. You can likely get one from your friendly neighborhood butcher.

Here's something you can try - it usually works (but not always). If you're right handed, visualize the image of someone or something that you are very familiar with to your right, but keep your eyes fixed straight on (if you're left handed, do everything from the other side). Don't move your head or eyes and visualize the image drifting across your field of view from right to left.

Go ahead - don't read any further until you've done it.

The first time I did this, it was startling. Right at the center line in front of me, the image vanished. This was a demonstration performed by a visiting speaker in one of my psychology classes. She was a specialist in psycholinguistics.

Evidently, the eyes really are windows into the mind. They trace activity going on in the brain. The right side of the brain in right-side dominant people deal with memory and learning. The left side deals with creative activities.

So, when people are remembering some image, their eyes tend to track to the upper right field of view. When they are thinking up some new image, the eyes track up and to the left. It's as though the eyes are following the activity in the visual centers in the back and central parts of the brain.

When people are remembering in a sound, their eyes track to the right at about eye level and when they are thinking of some new sound, maybe composing a piece of music, their eyes track across to the left.

The, when people are talking to themselves, their eyes track down. Often, when someone is lying to you, they will look a little down and to the left. When people are depressed and their inner voice is making it worse, they will be looking down and to the right. The presenter told us that, often, all a depressed person has to do to "raise" their spirits is "look up". I've tried that and, by George, it usually works for me!

The last section in the Yale-New Haven module on intelligence is Judith L. Bollonio's "Multi-Sensory Manipulatives in Mathematics: Linking the Abstract to the Concrete", which has some fun things to try with mathematical manipulatives, things that illustrate mathematical concepts that you can, well... manipulate.

I'm quite fond of manipulatives. If you have a problem grasping some concept and you can find a model you can play with, that's often a great way to get a hold on it. Since I'm not dealing with mathematics right now, I won't go there, but you can be sure that, if we do get that far, I will be talking a  lot about it.

So, now back to the topic at hand. I can't take the standard IQ tests anymore. I've taken all the old ones so many times, I just know the answers. The new ones would require that I were still a practicing evaluator to use them. So, since I'm just doing it for fun, anyway, I'll just go onto the Internet, find some random IQ test, and not worry about validity and reliability.

On the other hand, if you want a challenging test, The Brain Game by Rita Aero and Elliot Weiner (1983, Harper Perennial) includes an IQ test developed by Mensa.

In my case, I found this test at the University of Cambridge.

https://discovermyprofile.com/myIQ/introduction.html;jsessionid=667B94D5277D176D35B4C60BDC489370

It seems to be a legitimate test under development and that gives me some added satisfaction of helping develop a new instrument. The introduction says that it will take from 45 to 60 minutes to take the test, so I will wait until I have plenty of time.

The test seems to be based on the Raven Matrix test, which is one of the more unculturally biased tests, having mostly performance items rather than verbal. It's called My-IQ and it was developed by Fiona Chan of the University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre and Michal Kosinski of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Wow! That was a cool test. I scored the lowest score I've ever scored on an IQ test but it was fun.

I did notice that I have consistently scored lower as I have gotten older.

I wouldn't have given this one to one of my clients because all it gives is an IQ score and I like to have more multifactorial (multiple scores measuring different things) results, but I recommend it for recreational purposes.

Is it culturally biased? I don't know. I suspect that many of the items could have been interpreted and analyzed in more than one way and it may be that different cultures would orient people to see the items differently, but I see that they are recording where respondents are from, so they should be able to tell if there are any strong cultural biases.



--- Notes on truth ---

... in matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all as to what is particular, but only as to the common principles; [whereas in speculative matters, concerned chiefly with necessary things,] truth is the same for all men, both as to principles and as to conclusions.

Thomas Aquinas

My naive model for truth is what-is-out-there, but when people are talking about "truth" they are generally talking about something that is known. What-is-out-there, would accurately be called, "reality". In other words, if there were no conscious organism, no "knower", then there would still be reality but there would be no truth. So truth is knowledge that happens when what-is-known matches what-is-out-there. Truth is knowledge of reality.

At the surface, that sounds okay but just a little consideration will bring up an immediate problem. How do we know - how can we know - that what we think we know actually matches what-is-out-there. This has always been a problem for philosophers (and scientists, for that matter). If you don't believe it, watch The Matrix and ask yourself, "How do I know that the movie isn't the way things really are?" It can drive you to a real existential crisis.

Descartes tried to resolve this problem. He asked how he could know that what he thought of as reality was not just some sort of delusion caused by a demon. It's at the center of many religions. Hindu and Buddhism both speculate that there is a principle in the world called Maya that creates the delusion that what we perceive is real but that only a universal mind is real. Christian Gnosticism proposed that the material world is a delusion created by an evil demiurge to entrap the spirits of people in a servitude of material existence and that only spirit was real. But Descartes' answer was that, although he could never be sure about the reality of other things, he could nevertheless be sure that, since he was thinking, a thinking agent must at least be real and that, because he was thinking, he must be real.

People quickly noticed the flaw in Descartes' thought. Do character's in an author's mind think? Perhaps we are all just characters in someone else's mind. So how can there be truth if we can't even tell if there is even a what-is-out-there?

The conclusion that I come to is that we can, at least, be certain of a continuity. We have tools to test what we can all convince ourselves is the case and has always been the case as long as we have had records to archive reality. Replication, triangulation, experimental control, historical constancy all allow us to test what we might know to see if it is valid and reliable knowledge. We can at least say that, if what we believe to be the truth is not reality, then we have a common and consistent perception of reality that might as well be truth because it is the only truth we can have and, indeed, it has always served us well for truth and must be relied on to serve us in the future as truth.

It might not be completely satisfying as an answer but I'm not so sure we can do any better. Truth is the truth we have.



--- Your adventures ---

2016

Andalusia is far south in Alabama. There are no mountains near there. It's far south of the fall line. But there is a waterfall about 5 miles north of there. It's in a little town called River Falls and I was curious as to why a town that far south would be called "River Falls", so I drove down there one weekend to find out.

I asked several people if there was a waterfall in the area and no one knew until I stopped at a convenience store, ready to give it up and go back home. I asked the counter person, who didn't know but said that, if anyone did know, it would be the lady over there, a mail carrier. Sure enough, she knew and gave me directions to an impressive waterfall in town.



                                                        Photo of River Falls waterfall

It's my experience that people don't know what they have in their own neighborhoods.

Adventure can be near or far. It can be as simple as cooking a new dish or as complex as a vacation in a place that you've never visited. A surgical procedure is definitely an adventure. Do you dare go to YouTube and find a video of the same procedure?

But above all, an adventure can be a learning experience. Where are your adventures?


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Harvard Gulch

Actually, the way you design a highline canal is start at the elevation at the beginning and set a course that closely follows the contour of elevation (you know, like the lines on a topographic map) but very, very (very!!) gradually descend from that elevation. The canal follows the "highline". That way, you don't  have to pump the water. Gravity does all the work for you.

There are other canals in the Denver area. Ward canal parallels Bear Creek through Bear Creek Canyon at Morrison.

Denver was built on the high desert so it's understandable that it is concerned with water conservation. Canals are not the only artificial waterways in the area. When Denverites talk about gulches, they mean something a little different from the standard definition. Usually "gulch" is defined as a narrow v-shaped valley with steep walls cut out by a creek or what used to be a creek. The later case would be a "dry gulch". In Denver, gulches are semi-artificial stream beds. Instead of following a contour of elevation, they run straight down the shoulder of valleys to a river. I say "semi-artificial" because the original stream bed might have been diverted by the gulch (as in the case of Bear Creek Gulch, which was modified by the McBrooms to bring water to their homestead), or the stream bed might be widened or lined with concrete to avoid erosion or increase the capacity of the stream. Many of the gulches in Denver play dual purpose. They usually have a trail and a string of parks paralleling them, but primarily they serve to carry runoff water to a natural stream. They are flood control.

Harvard Gulch, East and West are two gulches that Channel water down the South Platte River valley down to the river. I hiked the Harvard Gulch West several times from Harvey Park to Ruby Hill and the river. It's a nice hike.

I followed the Harvard Gulch West today down from University Boulevard to where it disappears underground at Rosedale/Kumming City. Harvard Gulch is named that because it parallels Harvard Avenue on both sides of the South Platte. In this area, most of the streets are named for colleges (as if Denver didn't have enough colleges of their own).  Here are a few photographs.












All the water features are Harvard Gulch. Only a few of the pictures look like the regularly defined "gulch" but Harvard Gulch is rather typical for gulches in the Denver area. The last few photographs are from the high hill in Kumming City Park. The last picture is from Harvard Gulch Park. I liked the view of the thunderstorm coming in. I almost didn't get home in time!

Highline Canal

I now live on a high ridge overlooking the South Platte River valley (Well, it would be "overlooking" it if it were not for so many trees in my neighborhood - not that I'm complaining - I like trees.) On east-west streets in my area, I can look out and see Mount Morrison and, behind it, Mount Evans, still snow capped in August.

Denver is a rather disorienting place. I can look out and, it seems, down on Loretto Heights, which stood above where I used to live, yet, Loretto Heights is one of the highest places in Denver. Looking from Loretto Heights eastward toward where I now live, everything looks like lowlands, and, of course, they are. Loretto Heights is a full hundred feet higher in elevation than where I now live.

So, there is a highline canal, and there is the Highline Canal.

A highline canal is an artificial waterway that follows the natural contours of the land. In other words, you design a highline canal by throwing water on the ground and see which way it flows - maybe trench out a channel for it.

The Highline Canal in Denver begins in Waterton Canyon where it is drawn out of the South Platte River as it flows from the Rockies onto the plains. Here's the very place where it  begins.






So what in Sam hill is it doing over here on my ridge just down the street from me on a high ridge across the South Platte River valley from where it originates?




But, then, there's a 500+ foot drop in elevation from the foothills to the South Platte River, and about 400 feet difference between the elevation at Waterton Canyon and here. So the Highline Canal actually flows downhill from it's headwaters to this high ridge overlooking the South Platte River. Let me tell you - Denver is disorienting.....

Thursday, August 3, 2017


--- Intelligence 6 ---

Robert P. Echter's article, "Working With Children's Powers Not Their Handicaps" offers little in the way of adventure but the contents are worth looking  over if you work with children, especially children with academic problems.

If you have academic problems, something that makes your brain lock up when you are confronted with something new or difficult, I would emphasize the main thread of the piece - find your areas of strength and approach the problem from our strengths rather than your weakness.

In my own case, I'm dyslexic and, reading something like this paper would take so long as to be prohibitive, so I don't read it. I am perfectly capable of understanding the contents but I simply use a more effective way of taking it in - for me. I have a program called Natural Reader (https://www.naturalreaders.com/assets/software.html). Anything I can copy, and almost every format of text file will work, I can paste into this program and it will read it back to me. The voice it uses is very easy to get used to and I use it for most of my "reading". I also take advantage of the free readings from Libravox, a website that provides a wide range of books read by volunteers. When I go to bed at night, I will usually listen to a selection of classics - literature or major scientific pieces. Tonight I am listening to Balzac's, The Ball at Sceaux. I downloaded that from the Gutenberg Project as an HTML file and have copied it into the Natural Reader. It's rather long so I will likely split it into a couple of sections.

Most of the people in the job readiness classes I taught  never managed to grasp fractions in school. That seemed to be a primary barrier in mathematics - yet they seemed to have little trouble with it in our classes. The difference is that most public schools use one model of teaching only and that model is oriented toward teaching the average person with the common academic strengths. The further a person is from that average, the more difficulty they have in a standard classroom. But there are many different approaches available for learning anything.

"Learning disability" is a misnomer. A more accurate description would be "learning difference". Where I have a problem absorbing text, I have no such problem with lectures, videos, or materials that are read aloud. My memory has never been great but a memory system like the one described in The Memory Book by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas eliminates that problem for me.

The problem is that, what works for me may not work for you. No one perfectly fits the "model student". Learning the best approach for you will open up a fascinating world of lifelong learning, and finding the best approach is a great adventure in its own right.



--- Intelligence 5 ---

Mozart...heh.

The Mozart effect has been pretty much blown out of the water. Playing Mozart while a baby is still in the womb - well, it's a pleasant pastime and, if you think you're doing something special, more power to ya'. There probably will be some salutary effects - but it won't be the Mozart effect - sorry.

But it is amazing how even academics get caught up in new trends - Mozart, Laetrile, anti-vaccination, hyper-light particles - they come and go.

But there is, of course, something to music.

I had a bipolar friend who could not take the drug of choice - lithium. He, like many, experienced serious side effects from the drug. I and several others mentioned music therapy to him. As a result, he came completely off his medication and did fine.

One of my earliest counseling clients was completely nonverbal and rather violent when aroused. I used music therapy to "interact" with him and, eventually to much reduce his outbursts.

I have no doubt that music is very powerful in a counseling environment. As indicated in the article by Michael Vollero, "Nurturing the Body and Mind in Physical Education with Mozart", there is enough research that indicated that music has a beneficial effect on physical and academic learning, and may even improve the scores on intelligence tests (Vollero mentions a quote by Fredrick Goodwin, past director of the Institute of Mental Health, that quotes increases as much as 20 IQ points."

Well, I've said what I think of IQ scores, but I'm all sold on music.

The Doreen L. Canzanella piece, The Musical Learner: Rhythm and Reading emphasizes the use of music in learning (remember all those mnemonic songs you learned in grade school ("Thirty days hath September.....")). Again, it's an interesting article but the exercises are very specifically for kindergarten aged children.



--- Notes on language ---

Philosophy lives in words, but truth and fact well up into our lives in ways that exceed verbal formulation. There is in the living act of perception always something that glimmers and twinkles and will not be caught, and for which reflection comes too late. No one knows this as well as the philosopher.

William James

One of the greatest traps for thinkers is forgetting that words are not the things they refer to. Is language the patterns you see on a page or the concepts they engender in your mind?

Unfortunately, language is both but they are not the same and it's devilishly easy to forget that.

A word like "knowledge" does not have "a" definition. Take a minute and look it up in a dictionary, or just type "define knowledge" into your Internet browser and see what comes up. The very extensive Oxford Dictionary of the English Language will give you plenty to read. If you've never seen it, there is probably one at your local library. Ask your reference librarian about it.

Most words are like that. There is no single definition but a family of definitions - all the definitions are related but there are going to be subtle but important differences. In order to parse out what someone else means in a conversation, you have to figure out, with some precision, how they are using the words they are using, and it is very common that, what you think they mean is not quite, maybe not at all, what they actually  mean.

Language, like philosophy, is an adventure and it can be just as dangerous. In order to understand what others are saying, you have to avoid the natural assumption that you know what they  mean. The devastating thing is that, in order to really understand yourself, you have to let go of the assumption that you know what you mean. If you have ever read Plato's Dialogues, you know that the very heart of most of them is Socrates demonstrating to people that they really don't know what they are talking about. And if you haven't read them, you really should. It's a powerful  medicine to realize that you don't know what you're talking about. That's always the first step toward knowing (as Socrates advised) yourself - "the unexamined life is not worth living."



--- Cool lectures for computer enthusiasts ---

2016

The best computer science video courses I have been able to find online are the Harvard courses presented by David J. Malan, a clear and entertaining presenter.

Intensive Introduction to Computer Science (https://cs50.harvard.edu/weeks)

Understanding Computers and the Internet
(See Academic Earth's Computer Science Courses on http://academicearth.org/computer-science/)

There are also many more open courses available at Academic Earth.

The University of Washington also presents a History of Computing course with instructors Ed Lazowska, Steve Maurer, and Geoff Voelker which could not be more in-depth with guest speakers who are the history of computing. In addition to video lectures, the course is loaded with graphic slides and other materials. It is available here:

http://courses.cs.washington.edu/courses/csep590a/06au/

(The above websites were accessed 7/30/2017)


Wednesday, July 26, 2017


--- Transportation in Denver ---


                                               The Rockies from my new neighborhood



                                                                       Water fowls

Part of my adventures since moving to Denver has been learning to get around. I won't say that it was my plan to get rid of my van and become a pedestrian - it pretty much just happened, but, most of the time I don't regret it.

The Dewey Decimal System includes transportation and communication in the social sciences for a reason. They are a major part of society. They are a large part of how people interact because they bring people together. Sometimes they bring people together too effectively because it has become so easy that folks take it for granted and when the technology fails them, they are often left floundering.

But I've really enjoyed learning the transportation system around here.

I didn't own a car until I was 27. Where I lived (Auburn University), I could walk anywhere I wanted to go and I enjoyed walking, but when I started picking up responsibilities all over the map, the car became useful.

When I moved to Denver, I couldn't get the resources I needed to get  my van registered. Emission testing is a big thing in Denver and I certainly recognize why. They've had a lot of problems with pollution. Most of that is in the past now because of things like emission testing. Good for them, no so good for me. But, I repeat, I like walking and Denver is a great place to walk.

But walking limits me to as far as my feet can carry me and only the distance they can carry me in a day. There's a lot more of Denver than that, so when we moved to South Harvey Park, I decided to learn to use the RTD (Regional Transportation District) buses and trains. My first bus trip was a long one from home to my eye doctor in Broomfield and back for a postoperative examination after one of my cataract surgeries. It went of well and day pass books aren't too expensive, so I made it a regular part of my travels.

I also noticed that there were inexpensive charter buses to places in the mountains like Black Hawk and Central City.

Throw in the light rail and most of my transportation problems were solved. Now, I know how to get just about anywhere I want to go. If I need to take a trip across the country, I can rent a car.

There's a bus stop right in front of the new place and I can easily walk to the nearest light rail station. The bus that runs in front of the house makes a beeline to City Park and the zoo and Museum of Nature and Science.

From Harvey Park, my trip to the "big Walmart" was either a day long trek up Bear Creek and South Platte River Trail to Dartmouth Avenue, across the river and up the valley in back of the Walmart; or it involved walking to River Point shopping area along Bear Creek and through the shopping center to Oxford Station. From there, I took a train to Englewood Station and walked the rest of the way (a short walk from there) to Walmart). This was a monthly practice.

It's a fair distance from where I live now to the same store but I decided to try it out the other day and was pleasantly surprised. It's all downhill and the walk is nice without a lot of street traffic. There are some nice parks and the walk ends in a shopping area with the post office, some favorite store, my favorite restaurant (The Beirut Grill), and the light rail station.

I used this trip to learn to use Lyft, a phone based taxi service operated by people who work for themselves and use their own vehicles. The process went off without a glitch, it was easy and inexpensive, and I learned another link in the local transportation system.

But now, I'll have to see what it's like for the second leg of the walk - that one is all uphill!



--- Intelligence 4 ---

Francine Coss' offering, "Developing and Assessing the Intelligence of a Kindergartner: A Practical Approach" is an interesting read, but it doesn't have much for the adventurer - unless you have a kindergarten age child.

But the next time you're in a grocery store, pick up a 3 pound bag of something. That's about the weight of an adult human brain. Somehow, that three pound mass of tissue creates your world for you.

Linda Baker's section has some interesting experiences. Oriented toward children and groups, the exercises are pretty easily adapted to adults either alone or in groups. There is an old book called Mind Games: The Guide to Inner Space by Robert Masters and Jean Houston (2nd ed. 1998. Quest Books) may be more appropriate for adults and I have put it to good use, but I would suggest being selective. There are some "opening" exercises in there that provide a guided exercise involving opening up to external entities. I, personally, consider that dangerous. Some folks think it's trivial because such entities (they think) are just psychological constructs. Others think it's okay because the universe is good and nothing is going to hurt you. I've had too much experience with entities that are "out there" and will hurt you. Be forewarned.

It's interesting that this comes up at a time that I'm specifically looking at the contemplative groups in the area. Typically, I'm not too comfortable with New Age philosophies but there is something to say for contemplative practises. It's pretty well established that meditation and similar practices do improve cognitive functions and I have written before on the practice of walking meditation to enhance learning on the trail. Also, there's no question that stretching and breathing exercises are great tools for hikers.

Although Ms. Baker talks about avoiding New Age practices in public school settings, even this section is a little too New Agey for me. For instance, I seriously question that "Love is all there is." Love is a lot of it - but you gotta eat sometime.



--- Intelligence 3 ---

Afolabi James Adebayo's section, "Teaching Awareness of Human Development" is a good read about sleeplessness and stress, especially for people having problems in those area. There's even information about why people might want to be stressed - some games people play.

Me? I rarely have problems with sleep. I learned to sleep in one of the noisiest environments I can think of - a lay barge. About the only time I have any real problem - it's a cosmic law that Wolf doesn't get to sleep the night before a long hike. My body knows what I'm going to do to it and does everything it can to sabotage my plans.

I will say that lack of sleep effects the results of psychological tests. I got to the point, as an evaluator, that if I saw my client dozing (sometimes, they would literally fall out of their chair), I would send them home and tell them to get a good night's sleep before they came back. And as the author of this piece indicates, lack of sleep interferes with both mental and physical performance.



--- Intelligence 2 ---

Again, Cynthia Wooding's module, "Self-Fulfilling Prophecy in African American Students" presents group activities to help African American students counteract biases in standard American educational systems by highlighting role models from the African American community that exemplified the analytical, creative, and practical approaches to intelligence.

The culturally biased testing issue was still going strong while I was a professional vocational evaluator and I'm not so sure it was ever resolved. I did give culturally unbiased test, because they were requested by counselors. And, yes, there was a cultural bias problem with the "classical" tests. Unfortunately, the culturally unbiased tests were lame.

The ones that I had to give produced minimal useful information that made me ask, "What am I measuring here?" Again, I dutifully gave the tests, along with informative additional tests and drew lots of useful information from extensive interviews, and I thoroughly deprecated the tests that I had to give in the report.

One counselor was in love with an scholastic aptitude test that had a reading level about 6 grades above the reading abilities of the clients I was testing.

(Sigh)

In the end, there are no culturally biased (or culturally unbiased) tests. There are only culturally biased evaluations performed by individuals who don't know how to design and interpret individualized evaluations.



--- Intelligence ---

Being a psychologist and retired vocational evaluator, I have what may seem like an embarrassing confession to make. I don't know what "intelligence" is, but I suspect that no one else does either - at least not in any precise way. I'm certainly not sure what an IQ is good for.

I've given many IQ tests, to be sure. I generally gave them for two reasons. First, the schools required them, but I had choice words for that requirement in my reports. That anyone could use the results of a test that can be so drastically influenced by indigestion for purposes of placement - to decide the future track of a person's life - boggles my mind.

I was disillusioned by IQ tests early on. My first client, in fact, was a charming young lady who chatted with me in a witty and smart manner as I stared at her profile that assured me that her IQ was 65. That's a heck of a way to break a vocational evaluator in. After the intake interview I went straight to the behavioral specialist and said, "This can't be right." After a brief interview with the client, the behavioral specialist returned and said, "You're right. I'll retest her." And sure enough, her IQ was 65!

I never trusted an intelligence quotient again.

But I won't say I didn't like IQ tests. My favorite ones were the ones that gave multiple scores. I used them in a more straight forward fashion. Instead of trying to get a blanket score to tell me how well people could solve problems, I looked at the individual scores to see how well people could solve those specific kinds of problems, and then I compared them with scores from other tests, and more importantly, I compared all those scores with what the person had done with their life - their successes and failures, their interests and their dreams, and I pulled all that together into a narrative. No one score could have ever satisfied me when the object under my scrutiny was anything so complex and magnificent as a person.

Uh....there is one other reason I liked IQ tests. They are fun. I like puzzles, so, obviously, I liked IQ tests.

Over the next week or two, I will be reading the Yale-New Haven Teacher's Institute's unit on Human Intelligence: Theories and Developmental Origins (http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/2001/6/ last accessed 7/18/2017), and then I'll see if I can find an IQ test that I haven't taken and given so many times I already know the answers by rote (and I'll recommend some that you can take yourself). I expect to have fun.

The first section was written by Dina Pollock and focused on intrapersonal intelligence, which is one of the intelligences mentioned by Howard Gardner in his work on multiple intelligences. Intrapersonal intelligence somewhat calls into question the classical idea that personality is the characteristics that are fairly stable in a person over their lifetime. A skill  included in intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to know self and to guide the development, to some extent, of self.

Most of the exercises suggested by Ms. Pollock are group exercises, which is reasonable since the section is about knowing self and we learn much of what we know about ourselves from other people. But some of the exercises are amenable to individual self exploration. Be careful with "Know your potatoes" if you don't live alone.

I'll add to Ms. Pollock's suggestions the Berkeley Personality Inventory, available in the book "Who Do You Think You Are?" by Keith Harary (the 2nd edition was published in 2005 by Penguin Putnam Trade). This brief personality inventory allows you to explore the way you see yourself (perceived personality) and the way you would like to be (ideal personality), and you can even let others score the inventory for you to see how they perceive your personality (if you dare).

I'm working on a guide for professionals working with therians and I have just finished reviewing a report by the International Anthropomorphic Research Group (Roberts, S. E., Plante, C., Gerbasi, K., & Reysen, S. (2015). Clinical interaction with anthropomorphic phenomenon: Notes for health professionals about interacting with clients who possess this unusual identity. Health & Social Work, 40(2), e42-e50). In their study, they found that furries (people who belong to a culture based on anthropomorphic characters and/or art) use alternate personas to move from the way they see themselves closer to they way they want to be.

I would expect the players of RPGs (Role Playing Games) could use characters created during play to do the same thing. But, then, I know a lot of gamers who intentionally choose characters that are not at all like themselves and are not at all like who they would want to be, as a kind of challenge.

I suspect that RPGs present a very fertile ground for psychological and sociological research.



--- Notes on knowledge ---

Thus the faculties of consciousness, of memory, of external sense, and of reason are all equally the gifts of nature. No good reason can be assigned for receiving the testimony of one of them, which is not of equal force with regard to the others.

Thomas Reid

There is a huge difference between Descartes' epistemology and our epistemology. A lot of our epistemology has drifted from philosophy to science - cognitive science. And science has worked out techniques for research that reduce uncertainty and bridges the gap between what we perceive and what is actually "out there".

Some still are suspicious of "faculties of consciousness" like intuition, emotion, and aesthetic judgment but these abilities developed with our race to take care of situations important to our survival and they are as important today as they ever were. We are often called to make "snap judgments" in situations where there is no time for long deliberation and many of our cognitive abilities are there for those situations.

But it is, nevertheless, important that our "faculties of consciousness" and, also our more respected faculties be trained to work well and to work together. Intuition, for instance, with attention and collaboration with reason can be fine tuned to be an effective and reliable tool for assessing situations that are "fuzzy", open to multiple interpretations, or that require a quick, cool summation.

I still run into people who think that memory is like a video recording in which everything that we've done or perceived is stored in our brains (if only we could get to the recordings). That idea has been disproved over and over by cognitive scientists who know that memories are reconstructions from very summary clues stored in our brains. We reconstruct situations every time we remember them and there is much room for error. But the same cognitive scientists have discovered and developed techniques that help us to reduce that error greatly. Rehearsing memories, associating new memories with salient information, and the use of memory systems greatly empower us to remember accurately and reliably.

At the same time replication, triangulation, and good research design allow scientists to certify that the results of their research actually resembles reality enough to understand and predict the workings of nature.

Nevertheless, we should be careful about "what we know". A little humility is called for because we are still once removed from the world. What we perceive will always be processed through our senses and our brain before we consciously apprehend our world. We will always be stuck with mental models of the way things work but, as long as we keep firmly in mind that they are models, that will be good enough.

No, I don't think we can know with absolute certainty what's really "out there", but we can have a consistent and reliable view of how our world works. If it's not "absolute reality", it's our world. We can't go beyond that - or can we.

The major problem is that we are incapable of directly perceiving the universe. Our sensory organs are limited and our brains are material organs that are limited in their programming to certain patterns. They are linear and time bound. Most of the universe, we can't even grasp, but we know that there are things beyond what we can grasp. What we know - our models - require other things. A physicist told me that the universe isn't made of matter - it's made of fields. We can't perceive fields, but they have to be there or else nothing we know would work.

I've had experiences that my brain can't grasp. That's part of shamanism, and there's another way we can go beyond. We're approaching a time when we can construct artificial intelligences that work qualitatively different from our material brains. They can think things that we can't. Can they open up new areas of the universe for us? I guess the question is, "Do we want them to?"



--- Websites, Blogs, and Videos...Oh my!! ---

2016

Actually, media is a new thing for me - on computers anyway. I operated the media department of the School of Pharmacy at Auburn University as a work-study student back in the 70s but computers didn't have much of a part there. I picked up an equivalent of a minor in computer science - I already had three minors, though, so I didn't get to claim it. Comparing those computers with this one (the one I'm using to compose this blog) is sorta funny.

Computer graphics back then was - okay, I won't go there.

I've even been exposed to HTML, but I can't do everything all at once. I didn't compose this blog from scratch. Fact is, I took the easy way out and used Google Blogger. But, then, I like the results - don't reinvent the wheel - right? All you have to do is just put everything together the way you want it.

I already had a website - The Therian Timeline. I took the easy way with that, too. I used Site Solution, a service provided by Yahoo Aabaco Small Business services. Again, you just tell it what you want and it does it.

I could have chosen a bunch of other such throw-it-together tools on the Internet but, you get the idea.

I'm working on a series of science demonstration videos to go along with my blogs for when I get to physics in a couple of years. See, I plan ahead! I'm a new hand to computer videos so, you guessed it - I took the easy way.

My laptop already had a video program called Dell Webcam Central, so I'm using it to put together videos, along with a desktop recorder called CamStudio Recorder. That way, I can display everything I put on the video - LibreOffice Impress presentations, spreadsheets, webcam videos, whatever - and CamStudio will record it all. So, if I can just live long enough....

Well, you'll get to see it if I do.

Until, then, I'll be here.

Stay well.
Wolf


Tuesday, July 18, 2017


--- Museums ---

2016

Museums are great places to learn.

Just visiting a museum provides opportunities to pick up things you didn't know before - not too good for picking up practical knowledge or skills. but many museums offer classes, workshops and field trips.

I've never lived in an area that didn't have museums. Most of the museums around Valley, Alabama, where I grew up, were in nearby cities like Opelika, Auburn, and Columbus, but the University at Auburn was packed with museums and I see that at least one old closed mill has been turned into a historic museum in Lanett, Alabama (It's called The Cannery).

Most university buildings maintain displays. I used to enjoy walking through the buildings at Auburn University. The art school was practically an art museum itself, hosting exhibits of the works of well known artists and showing the works of students. Between building were places like the Arboretum and the Eagle mascot's aviary.

Large towns are often cultural centers. Denver is loaded with museums and theaters. Within my hiking range is an outdoor art museum and a great paleontology museum. And then there's Dinosaur Ridge which includes two indoor museums and the side of a mountain.

I maintain a family membership with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science which provides exhibits, films, IMax, a planetarium, crowd sourced research  opportunities, classes, workshops, field trips and entertainment. In the neighborhood is also the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Denver Zoo. It's an easy train ride and hike through Capitol Hill (where the Capitol is) with great examples of architecture, from home to the museum.

I went in search of a more convenient path to the large Walmart in my area. The way I had been taking was a full day's hike. My plan was to walk through River Point shopping area to Oxford Station, catch the train to Englewood Station and walk the short distance from there to the Walmart. It was an improvement and the bonus was that my trail lead through the Denver Museum of Outdoor Arts.

This is a strange concept. There is no one building (though there is a central headquarters and indoor museum) and the museum is scattered all over Denver There is a website (http://moaonline.org/) so you can plan a visit. They even have a walking tour brochure that you can download. I went through the Englewood exhibition in December, so the central piece was a Christmas Tree.






I'll be utilizing the museums of Denver in future blogs and I'll be remembering museums of my past.


--- Intelligence ---

Being a psychologist and retired vocational evaluator, I have what may seem like an embarrassing confession to make. I don't know what "intelligence" is, but I suspect that no one else does either - at least not in any precise way. I'm certainly not sure what an IQ is good for.

I've given many IQ tests, to be sure. I generally gave them for two reasons. First, the schools required them, but I have choice words for that requirement in my reports. That anyone could use the results of a test that can be so drastically influenced by indigestion for purposes of placement - to decide the future track of a person's life - boggles my mind.

I was disillusioned by IQ tests early on. My first client, in fact, was a charming young lady who chatted with me in a witty and smart manner as I stared at her profile that assured me that her IQ was 65. That's a heck of a way to break a vocational evaluator in. After the intake interview I went straight to the behavioral specialist and said, "This can't be right." After a brief interview with the client, the behavioral specialist returned and said, "You're right. I'll retest her." And sure enough, her IQ was 65!

I never trusted an intelligence quotient again.

But I won't say I didn't like IQ tests. My favorite ones were the ones that gave multiple scores. I used them in a more straight forward fashion. Instead of trying to get a blanket score to tell me how well people could solve problems, I looked at the individual scores to see how well people could solve those specific kinds of problems, and then I compared them with scores from other tests, and more importantly, I compared all those scores with what the person had done with their life - their successes and failures, their interests and their dreams, and I pulled all that together into a narrative. No one score could have ever satisfied me when the object under my scrutiny was anything so complex and magnificent as a person.

Uh....there is one other reason I liked IQ tests. They are fun. I like puzzles, so, obviously, I liked IQ tests.

Over the next week or two, I will be reading the Yale-New Haven Teacher's Institute's unit on Human Intelligence: Theories and Developmental Origins (http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/curriculum/units/2001/6/ last accessed 7/18/2017), and then I'll see if I can find an IQ test that I haven't taken and given so many times I already know the answers by rote (and I'll recommend some that you can take yourself). I expect to have fun.

The first section was written by Dina Pollock and focused on intrapersonal intelligence, which is one of the intelligences mentioned by Howard Gardner in his work on multiple intelligences. Intrapersonal intelligence somewhat calls into question the classical idea that personality is the characteristics that are fairly stable in a person over their lifetime. A skill  included in intrapersonal intelligence is the ability to know self and to guide the development, to some extent, of self.

Most of the exercises suggested by Ms. Pollock are group exercises, which is reasonable since the section is about knowing self and we learn much of what we know about ourselves from other people. But some of the exercises are amenable to individual self exploration. Be careful with "Know your potatoes" if you don't live alone.

I'll add to Ms. Pollock's suggestions the Berkeley Personality Inventory, available in the book "Who Do You Think You Are?" by Keith Harary (the 2nd edition was published in 2005 by Penguin Putnam Trade). This brief personality inventory allows you to explore the way you see yourself (perceived personality) and the way you would like to be (ideal personality), and you can even let others score the inventory for you to see how they perceive your personality (if you dare).

I'm working on a guide for professionals working with therians and I have just finished reviewing a report by the International Anthropomorphic Research Group (Roberts, S. E., Plante, C., Gerbasi, K., & Reysen, S. (2015). Clinical interaction with anthropomorphic phenomenon: Notes for health professionals about interacting with clients who possess this unusual identity. Health & Social Work, 40(2), e42-e50). In their study, they found that furries (people who belong to a culture based on anthropomorphic characters and/or art) use alternate personas to move from the way they see themselves closer to they way they want to be.

I would expect the players of RPGs (Role Playing Games) could use characters created during play to do the same thing. But, then, I know a lot of gamers who intentionally choose characters that are not at all like themselves and are not at all like who they would want to be, as a kind of challenge.

I suspect that RPGs present a very fertile ground for psychological and sociological research.


What is gelato?

Well, for me, it's a small adventure. I've never had gelato before but the ice cream shop down the street sells it so I figure I'd try it.

It's right next to the grocery store and I walk there three or four times a week. One of the advantages of our new house is that the block we're own is bracketed by traffic lights which allows me safe crossing every couple of minutes, which lets me get to the side with sidewalks. Down the street a ways is a patch of lavender that is helping me deal with my mild bee phobia. People in this area like their bees (I'm not so sure I would like them. There are bee collecting bags hanging off many of the trees. No, I'm sure I wouldn't like to be packed into a bag with a bunch of other bees - of course, did I mention my mild bee phobia?)

The Glacier Ice Cream and Gelato shop is a very friendly place. Since they are the ice cream specialists, I asked one of them the other day if they knew how to stop brain freeze - that agonizing headache that results from eating your ice cream too quickly. He recommended pressing my tongue to the back and roof of my mouth. That works pretty well - not perfectly but pretty well.

They have a wide selection of flavors.

My brain tries hard to make gelato have gelatin in it, but I'm told that it doesn't. Gelato just has less butterfat and more sugar than ice cream. The texture is a little different. Being from the South, the "less butterfat" thing isn't a draw for me.

Honestly, in a blind taste test, i don't thing I could tell the difference between gelato and ice cream, which does not detract from this ice cream shop - it's a great place. It just means that I'll always err on the side of a milk shake. I'm pretty crazy about milk shakes - add the butterfat.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

--- Self reference ---

"Does everything have to be about you?"

How many movies have you heard that in?

But maybe it's justified.

Here's another great experiment that you can take part in on the Online Psychology Laboratory. I won't tell you anything about it because, again, anything I told you would ruin your fun and spoil your outcome.

Find it here:

http://opl.apa.org/Experiments/CategoricalList.aspx

under social psychology, and have fun learning about yourself.



--- Crosstabulation ---

2016

Until I figured out how to create stub and banner tables with LibreOffice pivot tables, I was considering making a tabling routine for DANSYSX but that would be redundant, so my focus for crosstabulation became just the 2-way and 3-way statistics programs. Since they are involved and, from scratch, it will give me a chance to talk about my structured approach to developing Calc routines.

XTab is a big (!) matrix function, but it's a sequential function, meaning that it has many procedures that are completed before the next process is started. My first task is to outline the processes with comments. A comment in LibreOffice Basic begins with a single apostrophe. Here, I include a header:

FUNCTION XTab(optional InMat,optional InType, optional CellCont as string,
_)

(It's not complete, because I'll be adding parameters as different procedures require them.) Then, comes a descriptive comment:

'Performs a complete analysis on crosstabulation data
'from a raw data table or a crosstabulation of data.
'The input is the data and the output is a matrix containing
'a stub-and-banner table of cell data followed by
'a table of statistics. InType=1 (Crosstab), 2 (raw data)
'CellCont is a binary string designated data to be displayed in
'cells of output: 10 places: counts, exp counts, row%, column%,
'Total%, residuals, stand. residuals, adj, residuals, chi square,
'likelihood chi square, odds, compare column proportions (Bonferroni).

and a declarations and initialization section:

'Declarations and initialization. If InMat isn't specified,
'InMat=MatArray1. If InType isn't specified, InType=1 (crosstab).
'If CellCont isn't specified, CellCont="100000000000"

DIM OutMat(), Xi(), Yj(), OutR as integer, OutC as integer
DIM I AS INTEGER, J AS INTEGER, K AS INTEGER, L AS INTEGER

That will also grow as I add code. I'll declare other variables in alphabetical order, inserting each as I use them, so I can keep up with names that I've used. Double declarations and accidentally using the same variable for multiple purposes without knowing it can be major headaches.

Then, I know that I'll have to crosstabulate data if a raw data table is fed to the function, so I annotate that section:

'Crosstabulation, if needed.


Redim OutMat(), Xi(1,2), Yj(1,2)

Thinking ahead, I know I'll have to redimension the output matrix when I know what the stub-and-banner part of the display will look like. Everything below that will be pretty straightforward and I can add size as I finish each section. Each section is independent of the ones below it, so I can test each one as I finish it. I have a test data on the Report sheet of DANSYSX that I will use to progressively test each section.

The final section will just display the OutMat matrix which, by that time, will already be constructed by the procedures I have coded. OutMat is a convention I use for all macros that display a matrix.

I will have the crosstabulation saved in MatArray3, just to increase it's utility and make it compatible with the matrix functions I've programmed for DANSYS and DANSYSX.

I use a lot of spreadsheet functions in the program and that's a little tricky. The topic isn't covered in the programming guide, but you can find information online.

To use a spreadsheet function in a Basic routine, you must first declare an object variable to hold the function. You only have to declare it once since you can't use more than one spreadsheet function at a time. I use the same name, svc, and declare it as an object variable:

DIM svc AS OBJECT

Then the variable has to be set as a function variable. That only has to be done once, also.

svc=createUnoService("com.sun.star.sheet.FunctionAccess")

Uno is the object manipulation language used by LibreOffice. This statement invokes a Uno service called FunctionAccess.

After the variable is set, it can be used to call spreadsheet functions such as :

PCS=svc.CallFunction("CHIDIST",Array(CSQW,dfCS))

This statement calls the CHIDIST spreadsheet function. CHIDIST evaluates a chi square value at a specified degrees of freedom value. The CallFunction method for a function variable requires the name of the function as a string (in quotes) followed by the information to be transferred to the function in an array. The function requires a value and degrees of freedom (if you look the function up in the Calc Function Wizard, you can see the structure of the function) to be passed as an array. Even if you pass an array to a spreadsheet function, you have to use the Array statement followed by the name of the array in parentheses. You can see that here:

XMIN=SVC.CALLFUNCTION("MIN",ARRAY(Eij))

in a statement that finds the minimum value in the array Eij.

To get the return value, a variable, PCS, is set equal to the function variable.

One of the aggravating things about LibreOffice Basic is you can't return a matrix like this, which is why I went about programming a complete matrix language for DANSYS.

Displaying the results is easy. I just set the function to the output matrix, like:

XTab=OutMat.

There was some debugging that had to be done, but you can see the final product when I post DANSYSX in the Therian Timeline, here:

http://www.theriantimeline.com/excursions/labbooks

Note: DANSYSX version 1.0 is available now on the timeline.



Saturday, July 15, 2017

I figured the take away for the fourth Indiana Jones movie was, "seems we've reached an age when life stops giving you things and starts taking them away." And the implicit answer is that life can surprise you at any age.

This last relocation was an unpleasant jar but I think we might have come out better. I guess my biggest regret is that, now, we're further from the mountains than I've been since I moved to Colorado. In Broomfield, I was just far enough away that I could walk up to them close enough to be able to spit on them, but then I couldn't go any further. In South Harvey Park, I could walk a little ways into them. Now, on foot, I wouldn't even be able to get close, but, luckily, I'm learning to use the transportation resources around here and the buses and trains can get me places I never could go before.

The good thing is that there is a lot around here. My favorite restaurant is within walking distance. The University of Denver is right up the street and between here and there there is an operating observatory and a line of parks along Harvard Gulch. Also, the bus that stops in front of our house makes a beeline to City Park, which includes the zoo and the science and nature museum. I'm expecting some exciting adventures in my future.

I walked to the local library the second time today. It's an easy walk sans that killer hill above Bear Creek. The area is lushly packed with trees and the walk isn't far. The library is well stocked and, being a part of the Denver library system, cooperates with the other libraries in the area to provide a huge selection of books and other media. They also have an interesting calendar. I expect to be spending a lot of time there. Here's a picture of the Ross-University Hills branch of the Denver Public Library. The building itself is interesting - modern art.