field notes (08/11/2017)

Wow that last entry was weird. Sky is looking right this morning. It is close to 8am and my location is the living room of Selby. Beeps from a large truck cut thru the dewey air as the sink starts running with floppy droppy plops. A car goes by. Sounds are among the best experiences to document because one can write while listening. And to remember a sound is easier, like re-playing a tape. I cannot much remember the visual scene directly out of the window in front of me should I look away from it for a moment. The details will just disappear. The sights out the window I’ve seen thousands of times and as recently as a minute ago and I still couldn’t draw them for you as easily as I could describe the sounds. And, wait – while trying to write a thought about work intruded into my awareness. Off with that. Anyway it is easier to remember sounds. Outside the sun marks prominent territories: the lawn on the south end of the street split by sprinting rays (& sitting shadows) who run left-right and east-west right now. As the day continues and the sun rolls by the shadows will shrink and change their direction, until the same sitting shadows point northwards towards the house. And ongoing the street will eventually be split again, by the evening sun. Neat to think – the sun coming from east strikes out long lines, as it rises up the lines shift 90 degrees and shrink by some margin, and then shift another 90 degrees further and are drawn out again at dusk.

Lawn-mower sound or perhaps leaf-blower sound itching the earports. It seems to hear the gnashing metal engine sound – at least this morning – is more bearable than when also experiencing the sight of them. The bottom edge of the windowsill currently occludes the street beneath, and I feel like a periscope of flesh and frivolity. Yee yee haa haa. The morning clouds – which were really more of a dotted cottony haze – have been boiled off the top by the sun. A stunning scream trickles in from that screen, conjuring Alex’s voice: “As clear as an unmuddied lake, sir. As clear as an azure sky of deepest summer.”

field notes (06/19/2017) [*50th entry*]

Had the crow experience of a lifetime this morning. Will try to recount it in the fullest detail possible.

Last night I didn’t sleep well. For a week or two I’ve been without much coffee but during the day yesterday had a few cups – normally these many cells process that caffeine quickly but it seems likely that was why I tossed and turned. At 4:41 a.m. I gingerly crawled out of bed to meditate – felt pretty distracted, with lots of intrusive thoughts – and then at 5:00 kept hearing crows. Sounding close but not necessarily outside of the house – at least 2 or 3 of them.

After a while they broke my attempt at a meditative trance and I had to go see them. Grabbed my bag of snacks (corn) and went out onto Selby. Thought I was hearing them a block west and ventured out – expecting to see them in the tall roost-spot past Pierce on the north side of the street. No luck. Turned left down Pierce and quickly realized there were about 3 or 4 crows a block in past Augustine’s. Walked up the street- their cacophony was remarkable and chattery almost to the point of annoyance. The thick, lush green trees – and dark-ish sky, perhaps on a 2.9/10 brightness setting – made it hard to see the little avian monkeys. Their caws were in bursts of three or four and extremely consistent. As I approached I made a few ‘kawwwhhh, kawwhhh’ noises and shook my keys. Then I walked directly beneath the trees, over a manhole cover next to a basketball hoop (east side of the street). I grabbed handfuls of corn and poured them onto the manhole cover. They clicked and clacked and rained their clattery sound onto the ground and to my surprise the crows were rather responsive. It seemed clear as I did this handful after handful – at least 5 or 6 of them – that the birds were watching, and one rearranged itself (seemingly to get a better view).

I continued to alert them with noise and the 4-or-so crows quickly became 10. The most I could count (as they were moving) was 10, but I believe a few were in my periphery. Continued south to the middle-end of the block and laid down a few noticeable ‘lines’ of corn – perhaps 12-18 inches long, 3 or 4 inches thick, and just about 1 layer of corn tall or heightwise. Yellow enough to be bright and visible but not voluminous enough to deplete my entire supply. I laid out one or two of these on the ground and another on a blue recycling can – the crows were extremely loud at this point, and many more were flying in (primarily from the west end of Pierce, above the trees).

Wow – it was exciting. Always I am hoping that they are comfortable or at least unalarmed by my presence, which is to some obvious extent intrusive and loud, and if they are not unalarmed or comfortable my second hope is that they will comfortably leave. Or fly away. What sucks is the possibility that crows needing rest, or really just trying to roost in one spot, or that are otherwise unwilling to take off and fly away from me, are irritated by my presence. So this morning as they screamed and gathered I kept wondering if I was bothering them – scaring them – enraging them – etc. But as they were summoning one another (within a matter of 5 minutes there were 2 dozen large birds) and screaming together over my head, which has certainly never happened in the absence of food before, I must think there was some positive reward response associated with their screams. (Later tomorrow I’ll get back over there to see if they snacked on any of it – do crows even eat corn? Don’t ask me!)

Waving my keys on my carabiner (this is a sort of Pavlovian stimulus that I introduce when I feed the crows anywhere) I walked south into the intersection of Pierce and Hague. Wave wave wave keys, drop drop drop some food, caw caw caw, sing sing sing. A common and monotonous attempt at engagement – and, for my neighbors, probably a sickening morning regularity. There were so many crows (or corvids? Ravens? Hm.) above me that I didn’t know what to do or think. Just black mass after black mass, dipping and swooping like planes, but never getting close or suggesting outward aggression. Unless I am completely ignorant to their own aggressive strategies. Together they could have shredded my scalp (or worse) and instead they simply screamed like an avian chorus and made me super duper happy. I kept laying out seeds and lovingly cooing “hello, babies!!!”

Walked back northward after a while. Those few moments with a zillion birds around me felt like a zillion years. Really admired the big fat one that was atop the roof on the NE intersection of Pierce & Hague. It was short, squat, and had the same inward neck-thrust (head upwards, body fat) as a few ravens on youtube – at least, that was what my memory suggested. For some reason this one bird (on a roof instead of trees or in the air) caught my attention as I was walking through the crowstorm back towards Selby. I walked past Selby and onto Dayton a bit, seeing yet another fatty (maybe the same one from the roof) doing the inward-neck-thrust-guttural-call from atop a tree. NE end of Dayton & Pierce. Hm.

Went home. Scattered corn around the house as I arrived – also put a few round masses of the yellow stuff onto the roof. Then crawled back into bed with a cute girl as the crows kept hollering outside.

5 minutes is 300 seconds

http://consciousness.arizona.edu/

field notes (05/18/2017)

-taps microphone a few times- Does this thing still work??

My notebook of naturalistic notes is currently on vacation. While hanging with Mr-Baby-Consciousness and his dad earlier this week I left it over at their place. Oops. Way to go!

Yesterday St. Paul saw the most fantastic and gorgeous thunderstorm in…..ever? Was working as the sky became dark. Over the course of a few minutes we found ourselves with monsoon-style rains and water in the basement. I left a cup outside and quickly gathered an inch’s worth of water to sip on….not bad. This morning it again looks grey but not aggressively so. Maybe we’ll get lucky again. It feels pretty marvelous to wake up without issues these days- it felt like half a lifetime that these morning hours were lost to me. But to have a morning sit in a chair, by a window, with coffee & a laptop is a remarkable and redeemable form of satisfaction. The gnashing teeth of car engines continues to beat and batter the eardrums, & to yank the attention span out of the sound of silence. the sound of vehicles driving by has taken on this sickening flavor lately (as referenced in previous posts), & I notice it is most poignant when I’m at home trying to relax. Many times (this morning included) I leave a small fan on to generate some white noise but that’s both annoying and insufficient. Maybe rural living (or living on a street less busy than Selby) would resolve this bizarrely off-putting experience.

The leaves, buds, grass are all quite far along. Last time we spoke they were just erupting from their woody bedspreads but now they are out the door and off to work for the day. It would really serve me to go on another long walk down the railroad tracks – must’ve really colored in by now. 90% of the joy of those railroad walks is the solitude and that is likely much enhanced with the occlusion of road-views. I’ll find out.

The curtains are signaling a bit of a breeze – my skin waits for its touch but nothing yet. The very high squeak of a bird. A lady closes her car door across the street. I inhale through the nose, revealing yet another squeak – guess it’s me, not a bird. A massive blue truck outside – EAST METRO ENVIRONMENTAL (EME) ST. PAUL, MN. THE LOCAL ALTERNATIVE. 651-735-9159

Looks like the wind is picking up. The monkey-mind is tempted to reach its left thumb over to the apple key, & to reach the left index finger over to the T, & to open a new tab, & to type “weather” (or maybe St. Paul weather), & to determine exactly whether or not it will rain, & how much, & how likely it is that it’ll rain on my way to work, & to plan accordingly. this entire image/desire fleets through my mind, but not through my mind’s eye so much as in the quivering of my left hand. to check the weather in this way is essentially a reflex and one that occurs quickly and automatically. but what difference does it make? can’t I keep an umbrella with me either way? the desire to know is what’s at play here, or at the very least the desire to follow through on regular impulse. to rapidly open yet another browser tab is to outwardly and digitally express the death of one’s attention span. why check the weather at this moment? I’m sitting in front of a fucking window! I’ll just bring an umbrella (in order to satisfy the concern about rain) rather than jump through the hoops of a mental formulation (in order to satisfy the concern about rain maybe sorta possibly happening).

these types of mental reflexes are what gets me into trouble sometimes, especially with planning my day. it’s a quick jump to Google whenever I need directions for the bus. But where does that really get me? All of the routes I might need to take somewhere have maps. I don’t use the maps when I use google. And I can’t use Google on the bus. So very often it seems that I’m screwed with regards to weather or getting around on the bus or yada yada yada. A cell phone really didn’t help with that…when the mind satisfies the immediate impulse, and provides itself with intermittent and fleeting confirmation of various factoids, it doesn’t really grasp them. At least mine doesnt & I supposedly have a really fancy memory. How very nice it’s been to avoid that extra browser tab & simply figure it out. With the bus example that means using the maps that are on the bus and also asking someone how something is done. Getting verbal input from someone is so much more valuable and often leads to a more direct answer. In the Vision of the Cell my mind appreciates the tendency of microorganisms, enzymes, mitochondria, etc. to help one another out within the vast architecture of the interstitial fluid.

More cars. The curtains are still dancing with the breeze a bit but this time my skin feels licked – rather, the outside of my pants. A bit cool but not excessively so. I’ll wear leggings underneath my cottony pant things & hopefully that will be sufficient I’ll assume that will be sufficient. Suddenly it begins to snow! What??? Large chunky flakes fall from the sky….oh just kidding that’s my dandruff.

baby consciousness…we meet again

Photo on 5-12-17 at 9.09 PM #4.jpg

this kid is too darned adorable. I’m currently with him at his momma & poppa’s – they’re out on a date. and lucky them, because both of them are pretty swell folks. as is their little boy here – his facial expressions are so remarkably nuanced. sitting with him & constantly smiling at him, trying to make him smile back – i am instantly reminded that He Sees Through Me, and wont be irrationally tickled into a happy state. immense and subtle is his learning – amazing to watch him move, grasp, re-grasp, squeak, re-grasp, drop……like a drop of ink falling into the water. the ink (baby) & its environment (water) are not separate, but are distinct…..& adjust, mingle, altering one another reciprocally. even most contemporary language in the world of developmental psychology and developmental neuroscience is suggestive of this idea that babies are ‘learning the skills needed to be an adult,’ as if the passivity of embodiment suddenly vanishes at old age. in my experience both the adult (or the advanced adult/senior/cute old prune) and the child follow this same ink-water relationship. perhaps the adult-ink has settled more equally into the water, and is more familiar with the turnings of the water, and vice versa. but both follow the same rules, & neither is entitled to magic intentionality.

as a helpful reminder (or perhaps the very prompt) for these lines of thinking are some of the books that mom & dad have sitting around here. The Soul of an Octopus is the clear Ian-choice:

“Popular naturalist Sy Montgomery explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus, the remarkable connections it makes with people, and the vibrant community that arises around this complex, intelligent, and spirited creature. Practicing true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, Montgomery befriends individual octopuses with strikingly different personalities – gentle Athena, assertive Octavia, curious Kali, and joyful Karma – who show their cleverness in myriad ways: escaping enclosures, creative trickery to get food, and jetting water to bounce balls. Montgomery also chronicles scientists’ growing appreciation of the octopus’s problem-solving as she tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about the meeting of two very different minds.”

but resting just nearby is another consciousness-themed text. Inner Engineering: A Yogi’s Guide to Joy. I would type the description of that one but it’s too long, and this baby over here is murmuring/moving in his sleep.

Be back soon