Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Thank you for my stuffed kangaroo "Kanga" and her little joey "Roo". (If it be your will, would you allow my kids to be more creative when they name their stuffed animals?) Thank you that we are reunited at last and that they are willing to sit on my bed all day. Thank you also for my yellow blanket which I've had since I was born and which doesn't have a name. Thank you that almost nobody makes fun of me for still having it. Thank you that it has been a good friend these past nineteen and a half years or so.
Thank you for Albert and Elric and the good traveling companions they are. Albert is so cool in all his white-ness, and Elric is so cool in all his green-ness. For Ernest too. I also thank you for my friend's computer Eddie, even though he is a PC. And for Firefly who I helped name. They are all great tools and great friends.
Thank you for my uncle and my cousins. Thank you for how excited they get over music and that my uncle calls me the "iPod master" and that he put me in charge of the music yesterday while we were driving to various grave sites and so forth. Actually, I thank you for all of my uncles; I'd get more specific, but I don't think I'm allowed to.
I thank you for my extended family in general. Thank you that I can count each one of my cousins as a friend in his or her own right and that we all get along so well.
I thank you that my friend now has a Volkswagen Microbus and that I will now see it most every day. This is probably the best thing that's ever happened to me. Ever.
I thank you for tea: For wild raspberry herbal tea and for Tazo Passion tea especially. I thank you that every time I smell wild raspberry tea it makes me think of U2's "Electrical Storm" because I listened to that a lot at camp. I thank you for how you are continually affirming my calling (your calling), how, at camp, you showed me the vital role of art in the lives of children and the amazing ministering power of beauty. I thank you for all the beauty that you've brought into my life. I thank you for women who I'll just see around town or throughout my day who take time to be beautiful. I always want to go up and thank them. I'm not sure why.
I thank you for my friend Tim, for his love of music and of people. Thank you for how much he's taught me about community. I'm sorry that he's leaving. Thank you that he's following you, though. Also thank you so much for the community that you've put me in.
Thank you for the companionship I find in reading; I don't know where I'd be without books. Thank you for Godric, who is always trying to be holy, for Hazel in Watership Down, who wants very much to be a good leader. For Reverend Ames, who takes time to think and to remember. For Marilynne Robinson who causes Reverend Ames to think and reflect. For Philip Yancey, who is always looking for the truth.
Keeping me looking for the truth, and bless me now as I seek to do you will.
In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Of course, I haven't done anything to alleviate the situation.
Okay, so people have been doing this for a long time, and I'm just freaking out over nothing. But freaking out is fun, so I'll keep on with it. Anyway, all this to say that I've now added Katie and Stan to my homepages so I can keep tabs (get it?) on them daily. They post a lot, and have trouble keeping up with them otherwise.
If you, by the way, think I should add your web page to my list of homepages then just let me know, and I'll think about making you a part of the family.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Oh, and to give credit where it's do, this portrait was done by our own Eucharisto some years ago. (On a program called "Appleworks" - the Mac version of Paint [the best program Microsoft ever designed]).
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
So you see that I'm killing three or four birds with one stone here. But please, poultry genocide aside, join me as I toss this
stone up to glory seeking to give thanks to my Creator. And who knows? Perhaps this will be the first of many thanksgiving posts to come.
To begin with basics, Lord, I give thanks for ultimate frisbee. And for Mt. Tabor park even though there's no good spot to play ultimate frisbee up there. This is why I also give thanks for Berrydale park; it's name makes me think of the asylum in Arsenic and Old Lace, but it has a long stretch of grass, and that counts for something.
I give thanks for rain. For running in the rain. For running in the rain on Mt. Tabor park, in the morning when there is a fog in the air and in the trees.
I thank you, God for my friend who's name I don't want to say on the Internet and who goes running three times a week with Why and myself rain or shine, though of course, because he's from California, he'd prefer it were shine. Also I should say that Why and I go running with him, since he's been doing this longer. I thank you most of all for his willingness to listen, I thank you that you brought him into my life at one of its darkest points. Thank you for bringing me out of that darkness. (Don't let me go back.)
Thank you for artists who show me other ways to do things. Thank you that you are far more creative or imaginative than any human. I don't think I could worship a God whom I could out daydream. Thank you for 2001: A Space Odyssey and The New World. Neither film is complete, of course. But they are both so refreshing to my soul. Thank you for Sufjan Stevens and for the Danielson Family and that they both heed your vision (to borrow from the trailer that supplies me with all the information I know about the Danielson Family). Thank you also for Frederick Buechner and for the colorful wings he has put on my perception of the Gospel. Thank you for G. K. Chesterton and the enormous, crushing joy that is your Gospel that he has revealed to me.
Thank you so much for your Gospel, which is Good News not only for the sinner but for the saved. Thank you that you Gospel is a well to which we can continually return. I thank you that you do not stand in the way; the only thing keeping me from being roaring slobbering drunk on that Living Water is me.
I thank you for my family. I thank you for the crazy, bottled up tensions and relationships that make up a family; how I'd miss that holy insanity! (I thank you also for using Brave New World to point this out to me.) Give Mom and Dad grace as they seek to serve you. Thank you for parents are willing to fling everything to the wind to chase the Wild Goose that is your Holy Spirit.
(I thank you for "Casimir Pulaski Day", which my computer, Albert is just this moment playing.)
I thank you for relationships. I thank you for the health and richness you have brought into my relationships since bringing me out of the darkness I mentioned. All of the rich friendships, the wonderful people that I can't even begin to name in this place.
Thank you for those two wonderful people who lead our college group; you used them to show me the perilous importance of thanksgiving (and for other things which you and I know).
I send a special prayer of thanks also for the relationship you've permitted me to begin with the girl that most people know here by that very long name. That the person called The Queen of Arts and England would even consent to join me on this "getting to know you" venture is cause enough for a thousand songs. Thank you.
Lastly, my dear sweet Jesus, and perhaps most importantly, I thank for my beautiful sister, Midsummer, who's birthday is tomorrow. I thank you for the summer sunshine that she is in this family and I ask that you make your own face to shine upon her on this special day.
And now I end this prayer of (mostly) thanksgiving, with a prayer that you make me fully alive, fully in communion with you. Use me to bring to life those around me. I hope there's some of you left in this post.
In Jesus' name.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
I don't have time for a real post today, but (of course) that doesn't mean I can't dig up something from way back in my past. Today's somewhat moldy dish a paper I wrote for my psychology class; yes, it's a hack job, but my teacher liked it, and that's what counts. I quote poetry in it, if that interests you. Besides, some of you (okay, one of you) have expressed interest in reading this paper, so that's probably a good enough excuse. Here it is:Most Fresh Sting: Memory Storage and Retrieval
In the Australian children's story Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, a little boy name Wilfrid who lives next to a retirement home seeks the answer to a simple question: "What is a memory?" Wilfrid asks this question in hopes of somehow restoring the memory of his friend, Miss Nancy, who is suffering from memory-loss. Wilfrid Gordon's neighbors had many different answers to his question, and one gets the feeling that, if modern psychologists were approached on the subject, a similarly varied response would result. The question of Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge still lingers a little in the world of psychology, though perhaps in more complex forms. Psychologists might have moved beyond simply seeking a definition for memory, and instead are asking themselves questions relating to memory storage and retrieval. It is this topic of storage and retrieval that I intend to survey in this paper, focusing also on the role of the olfactory receptors in memory recall.
The concept of memory storage that probably many of us have in the back of our minds is the idea that we store our memories in a little corner of our brain, in a room, perhaps with a sign above the door, labeled "Memories". This is a nice, neat theory of memory, and, of course, it's wrong.
In the early 1900s, psychologists began a search for such a room, a search that more or less continues to this day. These researchers, like the little boy in the story at the beginning of this paper, were looking for memory. But how exactly does one pinpoint memory? Is it localized in one spot (as our imagination might have us believe), or is it spread across the brain? One famous researcher, Harvard psychologist Karl Lashley, went a long way in answering these questions.
Lashley's method was ingenious, though perhaps cruel. According to author Mark Pendergrast (1996), Lashley started by teaching several rats to complete a complex maze. After that, finding where the rats stored their memory would be relatively simple. Lashley would systematically remove sections of the different rat’s brains and let the rats try their luck in the maze again. If a rat demonstrated a total lack of memory for the maze after a certain section of the brain was removed then the search for the memory's storehouse would be complete. But surprisingly, no matter which part of the brain Lashley removed, the rat always retained at least some memory of the maze; it was not where the brain was affected, but how much it was affected that made the difference in how well the rat remembered the maze (pp. 101-102). Lashley’s conclusion: We store memory all over our brain, not just in one localized area.
As "Psychology Today" journalist Jill Neimark (1995) puts it: "Memory is not a single entity residing in a single place.” Neimark goes on to say that memory “is the likelihood that the pathway of neurons and connections an experience forges in the brain can be reactivated again." (Neimark, 13 Ways of Looking at the Brain section, para. 5).
How, then, is a memory formed? We know that a memory starts as an experience. This experience then passes through the hippocampus, where psychologists believe that memory is received, and then the hippocampus decides whether to relay the experience or discard it. (Neimark). If relayed, the experience will be stored along a complex network of neurons. The neural bonds that are formed may then be strengthened over time by recollection.
In William Morris's poem "The Defence of Guenevere" Arthur's runaway queen ponders the phenomena of recollection; what Neimark describes as a “pathway of neurons” being reactivated:
In the lone sea, far off from any ships
Do I not know now of a day in Spring?
No minute of that wild day ever slips
'From out my memory: I hear thrushes sing,
And wheresoever I may be, straightway
Thoughts of it all come up with most fresh sting (103-108)
If memory recall (surely the lifeblood of memory) is the reactivation of such "neural pathways", how does this reactivation occur? Before attempting to answer this question, let us look at the two different types of memory. In the poem above, Queen Guenevere is referring to what’s called “explicit” memory, that is, the memory that records events, people, conversations, and so forth. The other kind of memory, called “implicit” memory, is what’s being referred to when someone says, "Once you learn to ride a bicycle, you never forget it”. Implicit memories are the memories of the unconscious: skills, routines, strategies, and the like. I do not intend to delve into the recall of implicit memory in this paper, but instead propose to explore briefly the effects of certain sensory stimuli on the minds explicit memory.
We know from experience that a familiar taste, the whiff of a scent can trigger memories long thought forgotten. An unpleasant car trip, and exciting family adventure, a time of great loss, the intimacy of relationship. Consider this quote about the power of the sense of smell to release a flood of memories:
“My grandfather died three years ago, and his image in (a photograph), caught in a moment of posed reunion, often reminds me of my boyhood, when he doted on me as his hunting and fishing companion. Yet the recollections are vague and distant.
Recently, however, I took his old deerskin hunting vest out of the closet and on an impulse pressed it to my face and sniffed. Abruptly there came over me a rush of emotion and memory as intimate as it was compelling. No longer was I an adult squinting across a chasm of years at dim events: Suddenly I was a boy again, and there in all but the flesh was my grandfather, methodically reloading his shotgun as the flushed quail sailed beyond the mesquite.
This was no hazy reverie. I could feel his whiskered cheek against mine and smell his peculiar fragrance.” (Boyd Gibbons)
This only makes sense, considering that the olfactory receptors have a direct link to what is thought to be one of the key areas in memory processing in the brain.
In conclusion we see that, while Wilfrid Gordon may not find a definite answer to his question, the field of the study of memory is beginning to cement some of the foundational concepts of memory, including memory storage, and is also advancing in the study of what sensory stimuli strengthen and trigger memory.
Fox M. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (1989) Kane/Miller Book Publishers
Gibbons B. as quoted in Creating Understanding by Donald K. Smith (1992). Zondervan Publishing House.
Morris W. (1909-14). The Defence of Guenevere. The Harvard Classics.
Neimark J. (1995). It s magical. It s malleable. It s..memory. Psychology Today, 13 Ways of Looking at the Brain section, para. 5.
Pendergrast, M. (1996). Victims of Memory (pp. 101-102). Upper Access, Inc. Book Publishers.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
These are just some questions to keep in mind. I can't wait to hear your responses.
Monday, May 01, 2006
As most of you know, I have started up a new blog called Communication Matters. I am very excited about this blog and on it I intend to post all of my most profound thoughts and ideas, which seem to occur to me on a bi-weekly basis. In the meanwhile, I have decided that this blog (Foolish Knight) shall contain a bit more of that which is personal, a bit more of the every day.
So, reasoning along these lines, I thought it would be good to let you know something that has changed about my life in recent days. Well, not changed exactly, but... well, I'll just tell you: The smell of my new deodorant, at times, hurts my teeth. I'm dead serious: It's that strong and that weird.
Now this is a vast improvement over my last deodorant which, by the way, didn't have any odor AT ALL. It seems to me that if a deodorant doesn't really prevent bad body odor (which this last one DIDN'T), the least it can do is cover it up.
Am I right? What do you guys think? Let me know by leaving a comment expressing your views.
Also, you guys should really check out my new post on Communication Matters. It will change your life forever.