50 things I’d like to know about

didn’t plan on writing this & will simply type as quickly as possible

  1. The names, basic character traits, and small happenings of my neighbors (or folks within a few-blocks-radius)
  2. What the fuck over-easy over-hard sunny-side-up etc. means with eggs. But do I really care to know that? Not really
  3. neuropsychoimmunology
  4. how people think
  5. whether or not i’m the type of person who would fuck up with power tools (slice an arm off), or be skilled with them (masterful craftsperson), or just some unremarkable middle version of those things
  6. what’s up with theatre- and performance-related behaviors
  7. how to quit eating meat
  8. about this strange-tendency-to-almost-communicate-with-nonhuman-animals (EG cat can be prompted to come over/come, but not to do other things, why)
  9. how it feels to be physically addled with _______________ (shrapnel wounds, severe scarring, crohn’s, chronic mysterious unknown undiagnosed pain, bizarre allergies, a broken femur after a car accident, an issue with healthy eating, etc)
  10. drawing
  11. the lakes of tokyo
  12. the rivers of china
  13. the various greeneries of ireland
  14. the speculations that occur while swimming between Hawaiian islands
  15. what cartoonists think about when they’re drawing/rendering all those goddamned cartoons for movies. do they think about cartoons on their cigarette breaks & about cigarettes while drawing?
  16. how it feels to be a really good dancer
  17. how it feels to have 2 dogs at home who miss you a lot
  18. whatever happened with that airport/welcome home sign
  19. how street signs are made
  20. it’d be neat to know about these mathematician motherfuckers who are able to connect issues like the growth/division of tree branches with the hox genes that influence embryonic development, i mean what do those mathematician motherfuckers do for fun? play bridge? go on hiking trips based out of their used Subarus? apply for tenure? What do they do?
  21. how to knit things
  22. how to be that ultimate overall survival-cool-badass-guy who can whittle knives out of sand and shit like that, even though deep down there’s probably a knowing that it’ll never be necessary
  23. proper dancing strategies
  24. whether or not i’m really interested in 100 different things
  25. the applicability of neuroscience studies
  26. footwork
  27. carving vs other aspects of striking
  28. basic newtonian mechanics & internalizing them
  29. how the fuck does mental math work?
  30. how would it feel to practice _________ religion?  how would people look at me if i believed ______________? If I wore _____________, signifying _________________?
  31. what sorts of funny mess-ups (or successes) have occurred in the unseen and unknown ERs of the world? has anyone ever made an IV out of a drinking straw?
  32. How old the average person is when they learn how to cite APA/harvard/MLA style etc. without consulting google. On second thought, maybe the average person never learns these things
  33. how it feels to really travel
  34. what the maintenance guys who painted the apartment hallways thought about while they were painting
  35. why my arm itches so badly right now
  36. whether or not the strong compulsion to have a career related to pharmacology / microbiology / molecular neuroscience will be fruitful. is the specific material dance of biochemical happenings going to lead to helpful insights? is it better to just have friends/colleagues/who work in that area?
  37. if bruce lee were still alive……just, i mean, what if? (sigh) that’d be neat
  38. what does dr. dre think about when he’s pissed off? does he have a lot of alone time?
  39. what makes a good writer? is it a danger to even ask?
  40. which crazy motherfucker was the first one to hop on a horse & just be like, “hey, let’s ride”
  41. are there review boards that assess/test the tastes of vodka? what are the qualifications for being on such a board, and on average, what is the makeup of vodka taste-testers?
  42. how would it feel to be 22 years deep into a life sentence at a federal prison, & still not be 40 years old, & to spend 23 hours a day in a tiny cage? which moments would feel peaceful?
  43. who just facebook messaged me?
  44. What’s it like to set & achieve a 10-year goal? a 20-year goal?
  45. What’re the ways to best support others in achieving their 10-year goals? 20-year goals?
  46. What’re the ways to best be there & support others who don’t / will never achieve their 10-year goals? 20-year goals ?
  47. Now that I can make my own sorbet, how long til I’m dead?
  48. what’s with limbic systems? crying & laughing have a weird amount in common. It’s like a rubber band stretching too far & snapping back into place – a teeter totter smacking into the ground. the teeter totter is itself a 3d object that when viewed from the side pretty much forms a line, tilting back and forth upon a center point. one might look at this line in front of them & imagine that there is a graph, with this line superimposed on it. when the teeter totter is perfectly balanced the line runs left-right, and when the teeter totter is tipping the line is tipping along the axes (say the center point of the teeter-totter is at (0,3) and the teeter totter is exactly 10 units long. when you consider laughing & crying you’ll notice that they take place during extreme mood states & that often, though not always, they are followed by a mood state that is less extreme or closer to baseline. examples of this might include – the way that extreme laughter due to a joke, tickling, built-up tension, simmering awkwardness, or actual discomfort eventually dispels itself and leads back to a real calm. other examples might include – that calm, semi-orgasmic feeling after a serious cry. let’s think less about what crying/laughter means culturally & more about what it means inside your fleshsack – your heart rate is increasing, you’re heaving, convulsing, & your eyes are leaking. whether it’s a friend stabbing at your armpits with a tickly finger or a friendly uppercut to the same area, the average human will avoid allowing un-boned and un-skinned tissues to potential forces. tickling looks a lot like a pain response, is what i’m getting at. what’s about that? why does the extreme limbic state – that of panic, anxiety, crying – feel so much like that WHACK on your ass on the teeter totter – that which pushes you back, more forcefully than before, into a baseline? I would go as far to say that the limbic momentum leading into a cry does predict & have an influence on the speed & nature of the bounce-back. so, when a fit of crying-due-to-laughter comes on QUICKLY & sharply, or a fit of crying-due-to-sadness comes on slowly and chronically, the come-down from those experiences is (respectively) similar. Why? If we took the slope of the teeter totter in the aforementioned graph (assuming the teeter totter bounces/stops when its endpoints strike the x-axis) it would vary between +3/4 and -3/4. let’s say the change in slope over time is predictive of the limbic response – so, say, the teeter totter starts tipped. we can say the left half is tipped/touching the ground in this example. when it bounce up to baseline the slope changes – from +3/4 to 0. it just seems that the feedback limiting one’s crying/laughing to a certain point has a fulcrum, & that it must be biological. folks with mood issues & poor regulation of their limbic systems might have unbalanced teeter totters – overly-slippery in mania, overly-rusted in depression-etc. what’s with that? I’d like to know why tickling/pain responses seem so similar, and how people differ in having accelerated/fast or delayed/slow limbic responses to events. It just seems so weird, that laughing/crying similarity.
  49. how many youtube videos about karate do i have to watch before becoming, yknow, like a really tough guy?
  50. what’s the difference between me and you? (about five bank accounts, 3 ounces, and 2 vehicles)

TOO MUCH NOISE

the rapidity with which the brain adjusts to circumstances is amazing. neuroplasticity is not the only far-out skill that nervous systems have, however: there are two extreme characteristics that somehow cozy up and find room together within our skull. these ubiquitous attributes are those tendencies of all brains that are at once coworkers and also contradictory:

brains are formless

the first extreme is the brain’s plasticity. this highly pliable, ultra-erasable, moment-to-moment functional wobbling of the teflon nature takes place at the cellular level. consider your conscious experience right now – it is changing, and changing rapidly. it would not conceivably follow from this observation that some stillness or lack-of-motion is present within your brain. far from it – movement in our experience must mean there is movement inside of your body. even the observation that our moment-to-moment experience changes immediately suggests an unseen organ operating that is as bodily as all the rest, and that must be undergoing minute and constant change. the colorful flickering of our momentary Right-Now-experience is simple proof that life is a film of many frames, and it by observing the bodies of others we can appreciate that underlying this is cellular mutability and impermanence.

brains are formed

the other tenant occupying the shadow of all experience, and the structure of your body, is regularity. your brain is shaped like [almost] all other brains. it cannot be understated how exactly similar your brain is in the overall sense to most peoples’ brains. there are no doubt anomalies – folks who have been injured, or born with developmental diseases, or other modifications. but we are mostly alike in our form. consider car engines. i’m no engine expert but do know that, like people, many types of engines are out there. so a brain is like an engine: unique, overall demonstrating commonalities so major they are almost forgettable. engines are regular in this way: an engine needs gas. it needs the oil changed every 3,000 miles. it needs a car with 4 wheels to roll well in order to bring itself to the dealership to get itself looked at, and if the driver is drunk shit might go poorly for the engine. engines will fall apart if they get too hot and they will absolutely turn to rotten caramel if you stick sugar inside of them. a brain has similar expectations and mandates that, no matter how unique the brain, must be met. things like heart rate, breathing, maintaining some muscle tone in your eyelids in order to observe the bear flying towards you – these are the basics expected of a working nervous system. it helps to have working hormones, air in your lungs, and maybe even a few simple movements in your limbs….and if you can’t choreograph an orchestra’s worth of complexity within your gut you won’t be digesting the bear meat from your hunt a moment ago. these are the deeply regular aspects of being a brain, and they somehow coincide with the plasticity aforementioned.

so brains are both extremely malleable and extremely regular. it distresses me on a daily basis that both of these opposite qualities occupy the same mess of tissue. the malleability [of our conscious mind] then takes place within a context and the structure of the brain shapes that regular context, our place in it, and somewhere down the line, on an irrelevant shelf: these both shape our conscious mind and day-to-day lives, relationships, and feelings.

there’s a little story from a children’s book that was special to me as a kid. it’s about a frustrated old man who lives by himself in a cabin and was written by author Ann McGovern. for anyone who has really fussed over concepts in sensation, perception, and neuroplasticity this story should be a silly one. most of us can relate to being frustrated by noise at one moment or another – it is a regular experience. but with a little help and a few sensory tricks we can get past it. Enjoy this brief little tale on frustration, patience, and change – in the meantime feel free to wonder what was happening in old Peter’s skull during this frustrating little story.

Too Much Noise!


 

Here are a few concepts (sorry for the watered-down sources) to play with when it comes to our rapid adjustment to novel or stressful experiences.

Habituation

Orienting response

Signal Detection & noise (R. H. Wiley)

Broadbent’s model of attention

Attenuation theory (Treisman)

Affective style, psychopathology, and resilience: Brain mechanisms and plasticity

Social influences on neuroplasticity

Shoutout to the wise man!

Exposure therapy