Archives for February 2015

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#81 Puzzled


As a child, questions like why I existed never arose because I was too busy searching for food, clothing, or something exciting to make life worth living.  Never gave a thought to the meaning of life, the future or anything else.

I struggled to stay alive until I grew up and learned how to earn a living. I had children whose lives weren’t as good as they could have been, but they were far better than mine had been as a child. They grew and had kids, and their kids had kids. A great grandfather to four, I struggled to avoid the ravages of time. Growing old, getting sick and suffering before death was the fate I faced. What was coming terrified me. I rebelled, got angry at everything responsible for my being here. Then it dawned on me that experiencing pain was only a gentle reminder that time is short and to make life worthwhile, I tried to finish what I came here to do, but I died before that happened.

My spirit wanted to say goodbye to my kids, but shimmering spirits surrounded me. “It’s not allowed,” they said. “The rules say you have to come with us.”

I saw no reason to obey any stupid rules. My spirit dissolved into a haze and reappeared in the presence my family. I tried and tried to explain to them that there is a place to go after one dies, but my words made no sound. I stood there until the shimmering spirits caught me.

“Why do you care what I do?” I asked.

“It’s our job as soul catchers to round up any wayward souls and put them on the wheel that weighs your soul for good deeds and bad. That will decide where you’ll go.”

The scale showed many more bad than good.

“You’re destined to return as the creature you found most repulsive in your previous life so you’ll know what it’s like to be one of them.”

Horrified that I’d return to the world as the thing I found most repulsive in life. My spirit disintegrated in a flash of light and I was reborn as a female cockroach.

During my life, I had always thanked God I wasn’t born a woman, so God must think this is the perfect punishment for me. Life as a roach wasn’t much different than when in my previous life if I wanted to eat, I had to find garbage or something dead. I adjusted to that, but to be held by a male roach bigger and stronger than me who did whatever he desired made me want to puke all the dead things I had eaten. I thought if I found my daughter from my previous life, I’d be safe.

One bleak and rainy day I found her house and waited on her countertop for her to come home. I feasted on bread and cakes she must have left out for me. It was warm and cozy in her house and for the first time in this roach life, I felt safe. The door opened. When I saw her face, I jumped for joy. She stepped back when she saw me, reached under the sink and pulled out a can of Raid.

“Wait,” I cried in my bug’s voice. “It’s me, your Dad.”

She said, “Die Roach!” and pressed the button. The spray hit me. I went into convulsions and could no longer breathe. She rolled up a newspaper as I shouted, “Don’t you recognize me?” She couldn’t hear me and even if she did, she’d never believe a roach was me. The rolled up paper squashed my back legs. I felt no pain because the spray had numbed me.

I dragged myself under the toaster. She picked the appliance up. “Got you now,” she yelled and slammed the newspaper down on me. My guts squirted onto the counter, but I didn’t give up. I crawled to a crack in the wall and hid.

Satisfied she’d mortally wounded me, she didn’t search for me. Time passed, I got hungry. I wondered if I could eat the guts hanging from my ruptured body. I decided against that and crawled toward the toaster where a feast of crumbs waited for me. That wasn’t all that waited. My daughter jumped out with her rolled up newspaper and said, “Gotcha,” as she smashed me to death.

My spirit rose and the soul catchers were waiting. They put me back in line to return to the wheel. Wonder what I’d be next time around.

The end





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Fossil Creek AZ Fall, 2015

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“Give Me Head!”

We began imagining such grafts centuries ago. One telling has it that the Hindu god Ganesha was beheaded by his father and revivified thanks to a donated elephant’s head. Fast-forward to the 1920s, and H. P. Lovecraft was writing about Herbert West preserving severed heads in a “vat of pulpy reptile-tissue”, ready to be attached to fresh bodies. Today, heads or brains in jars are a staple of pop culture, mostly played for horror, sometimes for comedy.

Imagine that a  promising ball player, (Black or Hispanic) gets shot in the head. Ted Williams’ head is sewn onto the body, (He’d be a truly interracial man)  and he beats his own home run record. Then there’s a dispute whether to add the home runs to the old Ted Williams or the rejuvenated one? Or something like that.

Should I write this story???????

A mild shift in the brain’s electric state can reduce stress and anxiety,

These customized “vibes” are Thync’s secret sauce; the resulting mild shift in the brain’s electric state can reduce stress and anxiety or call up a person’s best stuff on demand, Tyler says. And that’s really just the beginning. Thync plans to launch its app with two vibes, “Calm” and “Energy,” but as the technology (and the science) progresses, more vibes for more feelings could be on the way.

Tyler, Goldwasser, and the rest of the Thync team are adamant that the technology works, and are themselves daily users of the prototype Thync technology. To prove it, they’ve done extensive in-house research (hence the collegiate-types rotating through the front office) as well as contracted a third-party chronic-use study with City College of New York.

Conducted in the lab of Biomedical Engineering Professor Marom Bikson at City College New York, subjects were given tDCS stimulation via Thync’s device, a conventional clinical tDCS device, or sham stimulation—tDCS that wasn’t targeted in any specific way but, in terms of the tactile feel, indistinguishable from real tDCS. One hundred test subjects underwent stimulation as many as five times a day, four times per week, for six weeks running.

“The main outcome was subjective mood,” Bikson says. “This is people themselves reporting how they feel, and whether or not they feel better. In a statistically significant way, we found that subjects receiving real stimulation felt better afterward, and that the relative improvement was larger with the Thync device. In that respect it outperformed conventional tDCS.”

The sham testing conducted via both Bikson’s chronic-use study and Thync’s own 2,000-subject in-house study indicate that the effect is more than mere placebo, Tyler says. Thync’s in-house research team has tested their subjects in every scientifically valid way they can think of, using everything from MRI to heart rate variability to saliva swabs testing for alpha amylase levels (an indicator of stress) to capture before and after physiological snapshots of subjects’ stress levels, anxiety, energy, and attention.

Under the electrodes, the familiar knot of tension between my shoulder blades begins to soften.

It took a year of continuous tweaking for Thync’s vibes to begin consistently beating the sham cohort, but “now the curves are on the other side of the spectrum,” Tyler says, and in almost all cases the Calm Vibe reduces the psychophysiological reaction to stress. Likewise, in testing Thync’s “Energy Vibe,” subjects expressed indicators conventionally associated with increased focus and attention, variously describing the effect as equivalent to a cup of coffee or, at peak, a small dose of Ritalin. The acute effects only last 45 minutes to an hour, but the residual effects of lowering one’s stress or dialing up one’s focus can last much longer.

But all of this data and the underlying science—with the exception of that coming out of Bikson’s lab at City College—is Thync’s own. Its device and research has yet to be peer-reviewed or endorsed by others in the neuroscience community or—critically—the Food and Drug Administration. It’s currently unclear if Thync’s device would require licensing by the FDA as a medical device, but Tyler says the team is working with the agency.

As executive director Sumon Pal fixes two small electrodes to my head he waxes poetic about that science. Writing vibes, he says, is like writing songs. “You figure out the pieces you want, but things change over time.” Over the next 16 minutes, things do change. My head and neck become accustomed to the warm vibrations imparted by the electrodes. My breathing slows noticeably, my thoughts cease their usual ricocheting off one another and zero in on the moment, and the familiar knot of tension between my shoulder blades begins to soften. By the time the Calm Vibe has run its course, the feeling feeling of warm relaxation running through me is somewhat analogous to the sensation one feels after a short bout of meditative yoga—or perhaps a healthy snort of bourbon.

The company is confident that before the end of the year it will be selling a consumer-friendly piece of wearable tech that actively alters users’ biology. Users will enhance their mental state with the swipe of a finger. It’s not science fiction anymore, Tyler says. It’s just science.

Duty to Die


Duty to Die

The years begin with a babies squall, and soon

pass on by. Then we’re old enough to go to school,

to drive, to drink, but no one  ever thinks they’re’

old enough to die.


Everyone wants to survive until the day comes

when death is welcomed as a friend.

Age gauges past years, and old people’s

desires are framed in a time when their faces

didn’t have more lines than a map.


Wrinkle free beauty is remembered by every brain.

Aged men want to kiss soft and tender lips

misplaced in painted memories of years past.


Mother Nature has a temporary cure for those

who refuse to accept the passing years. She

adjusts their eyesight so they can’t see

epidermis devastated by years.


Immortality brutally passes everyone by, and

all feel the toll taken and awaken to the fact

that old age is inevitably on its way.


Every one is headed to be shredded by time.

Room must be made for the new, the young, the

ones with a future, not a past, the young believe

those past their prime have a duty to die.

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Cover Chicagoua

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