Sunday, December 31, 2017

Dreams and Meditation

Yesterday I was the first person at breakfast. I selected the table that Margaret and I used, near the kitchen, next to the table our 104 year old resident usually sat. 

At 6:42 I should make it again today. I am feeling unusually well again and need to make the most of it.

Last night I woke up at about 3:00. That is not unusual. To my awareness, I never went back to sleep!! Instead I had two of the most vivid dreams.

The first was completing the cheat checker software for answer clickers used in the classroom. I was offered the job the same week that we moved into Provision Living two years ago.  My computer had crashed so the PC part of this Mac was destroyed and I did not have the energy to totally reinstall the Windows operating system.

Also I had no idea how I would edit my paper test cheat checker to work with a dynamic answer clicker system. The dream laid out the way to edit the connection between the clicker and my cheat checker.

SO, after James and I sorted out all our stuff in storage last Tuesday and I discarded about everything I had left from my programming days, I will now find the clicker file. For some reason I could never toss it.

The second dream was a replay of an article that found me yesterday. I have been using Google Chrome and Safari web browsers the past few months. I have also bought several books and eBooks from Amazon.

My interests are now known. I have a library that tells me what is new, exciting, and different as well as the next thing on the “shelf” related to what I have looked at and/or bought; as well as what other people of “like mind” have been doing. I have my own book club.

The article is not entitled meditation. It uses terms that seem a bit strange. But it includes a table that conveys in practical terms what, I believe, span the range of meditation topics. 

It is a long ways from Columbia to Grey Summit for Christmas without mile markers and no one to discuss interesting things. It seemed less than 30 minutes with these features. Meditation needs “mile markers” for topics and time.

That same time stretch occurred last night. To me, I was awake from 3:00 until about 3 minutes before the alarm at 6:00. The Sleep Number bed rated my sleep quality at 91; just one point less than my highest. So I must have been asleep. I feel like I had a good nights rest. Meditation time also seems unrelated to clock time.

The Positive                  Radiant Thankful Person who is open to the needs of others and makes you feel good just to be around.
The Negative Self Centered Person who needs some help forgiving real and imagined problems.

The David Hawkings levels of consciousness, on a scale of 0 to 1000, can be split into two parts: Things we should learn to forgive (but not forget) and things we should be thankful for (including about everything). Most people commonly understand these 17 simple terms. They can be used in guided meditation.

Forgiveness frees us from the destructive control the lower ranking terms have on us. Thankfulness opens us up to more things to be thankful for. 

Simply put, this is mind over matter; self awareness over self centeredness. These terms provide an effective way to use guided meditation.

It also follows, to choose friends and associates who radiate the positive upper levels of consciousness and avoid (or retrain) those that are stuck in the negative lower levels. This is the practical task of screening and evaluating new employees at Provision Living.

A radiant person, who is fully aware of the needs of a resident, performs markedly different than a non-radiant person. The same person can, at times, switch roles given circumstances of the moment.

Last week my tablemate was looking for her favorite strawberry jam at breakfast. There was no jam on any table in the dining hall. “The night crew did not finish setting the tables up properly.”

When we were about finished eating, two plates arrive at the next table, with jam on the toast. We enquired again about jam. “Here it is. Oh. Sorry, you like strawberry.” The server even remembered the correct flavor upon being disconnected from negative lower levels of consciousness.

The Hawkins Levels of Consciousness terms provide 17 different views of the same thing, each of which can also be distorted in time when dreaming and during meditation.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Provision Living Monarch Butterfly Therapy

Tagged Monarch Feeding on Mexican Sunflower
Everyone seems to like butterflies. They make people happy. Residents associate them with the bright sunny days in which they were found as kids.

Monarch butterflies have very durable wings. They can be tagged in late summer and early fall with a resident’s ID. Then wait until spring to see if the tag has been found over a 1,000 miles away in Mexico.

The plan was simple: raise milkweeds, collect eggs, raise caterpillars, and release butterflies; as my wife and I had done for many years. Let each interested resident have a rearing container to watch the show. ["The Community reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of your pet." Page 4 of 13]

That did not happened. Instead a program evolved in which caregivers and memory care residents took part followed by assisted living residents as spectators (“I don’t want those ugly worms!”).

The area is no longer several half-gallon butter pecan ice cream containers with five caterpillars in each, and 300 milkweed plants in our back yard. It now includes 1.5 acres of Ozark mountain terrain that is being naturalized with milkweeds and nectar sources for monarch caterpillars and adult butterflies.

Provision Living Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary
Memory care residents spent an afternoon, May 17, on the patio repotting 50 milkweed plants provided by the city of Columbia from Monarch Watch. They helped water them in the memory care patio garden. About two months (July 14) later they helped repot the plants into root bags.

The plants attracted monarchs. One afternoon we had a good 1/2 hour egg laying show with over a dozen eggs found. Daily collections were made by residents, relatives, and caregivers. In total, these potted plants attracted over 120 eggs.

Leafless Common Milkweed in Root Bag
The caterpillars would have eaten these small plants into the ground if we had not removed them.

My wife had a three-day period in which she did not talk. A caregiver accompanied her to look for eggs. By the time she had found a dozen eggs and two caterpillars she was smiling and talking.

The dormant common milkweed roots were moved to the south end of the 1.5 acre sanctuary this fall by a crew of 30 from the Legion of Black Collegians. This species of milkweed will next grow tap roots over six feet down, instead of six inches down in the root bags. I wind-sowed over a thousand seeds on a barren area to the north. Both areas are visible from the resident areas.

Tropical Milkweed from Seed
Tropical milkweed, seeded in a large “self-watering” pot, attracted both monarchs and humming birds. The pot was moved on and off “stage” as needed. [These seeds were, by luck, in a package of butterfly milkweed seed from Walmart.]

Our assisted living spectators saw very little of this as they lacked an area like the large memory care patio or our little apartment garden with common milkweed, french marigold, and later, Mexican sunflower.
September 12
May 26

Their primary interest was in large caterpillars, the beautiful chrysalides, and releasing the adult butterflies. Many were fascinated by the rate of growth, the metamorphosis, and the behavior of the caterpillars (feeding, and head bobbing in response to the voice of some residents).

This lead to a display in the lobby that visiting children and adults, and residents found fascinating. My activities in tidying up the display each morning (fresh leaves and a new diaper for caterpillar poo) attracted attention at breakfast.

August 7
September 7
Inspired visitors commented on the amount their caterpillars ate and the amount of poo. (They did not see me change the paper towel in the bottom of the display boxes each morning before 8:00.) One lady reported she had to take her untidy rearing box off her dinning room table.

September 29, Boarding Last Flight to Mexico
We now had too many chrysalides for the rearing boxes, holding 10 caterpillars each, in memory care. This lead to the addition of an emergence flight cage in the lobby for all residents and visitors.

Several of the caregivers recorded a pupating caterpillar and an emerging adult butterfly. A very supporting article was in “Inside Columbia’s Prime Magazine”, August, 2017, pages 26-30, by Jack Wax and photos by LG Patterson, “Richard & Margaret Hart Create Sanctuaries”.

The entire memory care community parked itself on the patio to observe the release of the first two monarchs. (See Provision Living at Columbia on Facebook.)  Each butterfly climbed high into a bright blue sky and then headed into the top of trees, accompanied with cheers and applause. It was a perfect show.

Our memory care poet in residence, Sylvia, handed me this note:
August 15
The Halloween contest produced this:
October 15
As time passed I learned the thing that most residents liked to do was to hold the butterfly before it flew away. Feeling a butterfly walk on their hand, feeling the little claws grasp their skin, was a memorable experience.
October 6
September 28

I also learned how to make it happen: Release the butterfly about five hours after emerging from the chrysalis. Too soon and they will not fly; too late (next day) they fly on release. We scheduled departure time each day as about 3:00 pm, weather permitting.

September 28
We learned to release the butterflies on the south side of the building near the entrance flagpole. We could watch them fly back up along side of the building.  When reaching the roof above the three-story building, they then took a southwesterly course: On to Mexico for the winter; about a month and over 1,500 flight (or bicycle) miles away. (See Memory Care Butterfly Rearing Box for details)

What has happened this year was a bit of a surprise. It was a preview of what we expected to experience next year. The durable rearing box (previous post) should make it easy for anyone to provide monarch butterfly therapy for individuals and for groups. But first get a good source of common milkweed leaves and a refrigerator (Do not serve as salad). Several of the caregivers can repeat the therapy given a supply of milkweed leaves.

Residents like to see things that grow and that change. They like to take part. Thank you to all who assisted me to manage the display and to make the releases possible. And thank you to Provision Living for letting us have all this fun.

Residents, monarch butterflies, and humming birds liked the flowers on the tropical milkweed and the Mexican sunflower. They put on good 2-30 minute shows several times a daily on the memory care patio. We will grow these plants from seed next year again. They are durable and an easy way to move the show about. We look forward to feeding caterpillars from our own milkweed next year.

Common Milkweed with Big Leaves
to Feed Caterpillars
Tropical Milkweed with Ornamental Flowers
and Very Attractive to Monarch Butterflies

Memory Care Butterfly Rearing Box

Inverted Storage Box
A 6-quart, $1 plastic, made in the USA, Homz, storage box from Walmart became a rearing box after it fell off my computer desk onto my lap upside down. It as total view of contents; easy for residents to handle; and space for 3 eggs to become adult butterflies or 10 eggs to become chrysalides. It had twice the size of the butter pecan 1/2 gallon ice cream container my wife and I used for several years to raise 5 caterpillars.

Half-Sheet Paper Towel Water Source Folded to Control Humidity
It took several weeks to find the balance between a two-three week water source and the humidity control we had with the ice cream containers. The chrysalids fail to attach properly in high humidity.  
Inverted Box with Holes Drilled
Drill holes to provide ventilation and lower humidity at the top of the inverted box. (Dremel rotary tool. Ended up with 12 1/8 inch holes but will try 16 next year.)

Cover lid with one 1/2 sheet of wet paper towel folded for eggs and hatchlings, for small caterpillars, or for large caterpillars.

Place leaves (or parts) with eggs and hatchlings on the wet paper towel.

Hatchling and Egg
Second Stage Caterpillars

Do not place in direct sunlight near a window.

Reduce condensation by removing from sunlight or increasing ventilation around the box (or drill more holes if room air has poor circulation or high humidity).
After a week, all the eggs will have hatched. Development takes place faster in warmer air. The monarchs in the lobby took 3-7 days longer to develop than in our apartment.
Quintuplets, the Last Eggs Laid  

Fold a wet 1/2 sheet of paper towel once on a clean lid (lowers humidity).
Add enough leaves to feed for 3-4 days or observe and, as needed, feed daily.
Transfer caterpillars onto new leaves.

After another week the caterpillars will start eating more, lots more.

Big Eaters
Fold the wet 1/2 sheet of paper towel twice on a clean lid (lower humidity).
Add enough leaves to feed daily or longer.
Remove the paper towel when feeding stops.
Change paper towel as often as needed for odor and tidiness. (Daily in the morning in the display.)
A Sleepy Chrysalis
The caterpillars will assume a J shape before becoming chrysalides. 

The Quintuplets with Development Almost Tied
and in Near Perfect Spacing

Casting the last caterpillar skin is one of the most watched stages of development. A number of residents became skilled in judging the time for this to happen; about after breakfast.

Emergence chamber.

Taped by Dental Floss and Silk
For few monarchs, fasten a full sheet of paper towel up the backside of the box and over the floor of the box for the new butterflies to climb up on.

For any number: Gently remove a chrysalis and silk webbing with forceps.
Tape or pin the silk webbing into an emergence chamber.

If the webbing fails, tie the uppermost black end of the chrysalis with a length of dental floss and then fasten into an emergence chamber (flight cage for large numbers).
Two Chrysalides Ready to Emerge

The adult will emerge shortly after the chrysalis becomes totally transparent. Seeing the wings inflate is the most watched stage of development. Again residents became skilled in judging the time of the event. A good show is to have 10-20 emerge on the same day.

Adult release.
Box Open with Dry Paper Backing

1.    If the wings feel cool, they are not dry for tagging or release. It takes about five hours. We released them about 3:00 pm.
2.    Put one butterfly in each rearing box for group releases. Butterflies fly up and to light. This makes it fairly easy to put a hand into the box below a fluttering butterfly.
3.    Assist each person to open the box (unsnap the lid) and to let the butterfly walk up onto an upturned hand.
4.    Gently remove the box without disturbing the butterfly.
5.    Most butterflies will remain on a hand for several minutes.
6.    We let slowpokes walk up onto a nearby tree leaf or just picked them up by grasping the front of both wings with thumb and forefinger.
7.    A good show is to assist several residents to hold the butterflies at the same time. It took me a bit of practice to do this quickly and quietly enough that four residents had a butterfly on hand at the same time. Hold the box only at the lock point with one hand and release the lock at the other end. This permits complete control of the opening and closing of the box.

When things go wrong.

A dropped chrysalis is a broken egg.
Damaged caterpillars and adults bleed green.

Dark off-color caterpillars and chrysalides are usually sick and die from many causes. This increased as the season progressed.
What Happened to You?

Caterpillars and chrysalides with slime strings reaching the bottom of the box have been parasitized with a tachinid fly larva (maggot). The white maggot or the dark brown puparium will be found undercover among the fecal pellets.

One to Three per Caterpillar Kill

Running out of food overnight only extends the development period.
Don’t mash a butterfly between the box and lid. Let an escapee go.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Words from God and Man

Words from God and Man
When mankind evolved, or as your God created (these two views are only in opposition if you want to believe that way (and there is no problem believing that way), our bodies used the same basic cell structure as most of what we call living. In time the brain developed way beyond that of other living things, in relation to our body size. This was a long slow process in a slowly changing challenging environment.
Language evolved with the aid of speech and words. Words provided an environment in which the mind specialized: Left-brain continued with doing and acting (with the right hand); right-brain became the silent processor of the big picture (more later see earlier posts).
The bicameral mind functioned well, in this brain, for a time (Old Testament times). The words from the right brain were viewed by the left brain as commands from an invisible God.
If this assumption by Julian Jaynes, 1990, in “The Origin of Consciousness in the Break Down of the Bicameral Mind”, 2nd Edition, 491 pages, is correct then mankind’s experience with God was an inherent property of the creation of the bicameral human brain.
If your God did not miraculously create humans, then by evolution of the split brain, housing the bicameral mind, the “voices of God” were heard, as the right mind commanded the left mind to act. The “voices of God” created an awareness of God in humans. An awareness of God created God! Lots of Gods.
Jehovah was a jealous God. The Hebrews were restricted to one God in Old Testament times. At the other extreme is the current secular state of Israel where approaching half the younger Jewish people no longer feel the need for a God. 
Both Jaynes and Rabbi James Cohn, 2014, in “The Minds of the Bible: Speculations on the Cultural Evolution of Human Consciousness” use Books in the Old Testament to document this process. The introspective mind, that questions rather than blindly follows commands, evolved in this time period.
This story is dependent upon accurate dating of the books in the Bible.

The chart combines dates from both authors. Historical analysis makes a marked change in the sequence in which the books in the Old Testament were written. Three of the six books were backdated, a common practice I have learned.
Our brain has changed very little during this time period, but how it develops during childhood in each culture and how it is used has changed remarkably (see earlier posts).
The introspective King James translators took words with Hebrew root meanings and gave them introspective English words: to calculate, assess, plan and devise were translated into think; intention, plan and stubbornness into Imagination; and breath of life, breath, wind, and spirit into mind (Rabbi Cohn, location 482).
There are no Hebrew equivalents to any of the following words anywhere in the Old Testament: worry, brain, conscious, consciousness, conscience, anxious, anxiety, introspect and introspection (Rabbi Cohn. location 482).
The bicameral mind functioned on commands from God for about 500 years: “Thus says the Lord.” There was no questioning. Just do it. This worked until cities became too big to control in this way.
This inflexible mind left cities to collapse but did not eliminate bicameral people who responded to internal voices as words from God. However after a span of about 500 years they became rejected and outcasts.
If parents catch their children naba-ing or in dialogue with bicameral voices, they are to kill them on the spot (Zechariah 13, 3) (Jaynes, 1990. Page 312.)
And thus groups of one to two dozen early humans were controlled by a leader’s voice commands; then by words from an external leader. Then by internal voices involving words from the right brain to the left brain that were interpreted as voices from an invisible God.
And last, these people lamented the loss of their God. Prophets, seers and diviners in the Old Testament were outlawed. About 200 years later, Jesus was accepted as the voice of God. The word became flesh. Few Jews choose to believe this. Some 600 years later Muslims accept Christ as another prophet.
Salvation by belief in Christ was then preached to the world by Paul (Karen Armstrong, 1993, in A History of God), a Jewish zealous persecutor of the early Christians, after his spiritual encounter on the road to Damascus.
The most startling thing I stumbled onto was that both some Catholic and Jewish authors now share the belief, with some secular authors, that the Exodus is myth! (Karen Armstrong, 2006, The Great Transformation, page 46 and Rabi Cohn, 2014, location 699.)  How important is it to base current beliefs on the voices recorded in legends that are focused on a return to a past that may have never been? Isis!
Intolerant attempts to promote a meme yields divisive fundamentalism in a time we need to be looking forward with respect for each person’s spirituality (independently from race, religion, government and socioeconomic status). 
Are most of these people’s spirits in Heaven? Or is life after death much like life before conception? A butterfly or a milkweed? First asleep; then from dust to dust. Each religion has been valuable, in its time, to organize and support people through difficult times.
The best I can do is God created man (evolution if you will) up to a point of physical development. Then man created God (from the voices before and during the transition from bicameral to introspective mind).
Now mankind had better use that God given introspective mind to look out for the entire world, including being tolerant of the religious beliefs (memes) infecting each person (that were once helpful but can now be increasingly destructive and divisive if not updated).
 [Over Thanksgiving I ran into a nurse practitioner using the 54321meditation technique to calm the flow of words in students suffering a “meltdown”. Is this flood of distracting words a remnant of the flow of words in the bicameral mind?]
 Your comments are welcome.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Developing Student Minds

A characteristic “J” shaped trail of seven bi-weekly test scores is often created by students who make the transition from passive pupil to active self-correcting student (scholar).

Is this a change from using the bicameral mind to the introspective mind?

Bill Rowe’s “Two Origins of Consciousness”, Chapter 11 in Gods, Voices and the Bicameral Mind: the Theories of Julian Jaynes, edited by Marcel Kuijsten, 2016, raised the above question.

Is scoring for both quantity and quality a simple way of creating the mental environment for the change to take pace?

Students select from 50 questions to report what they know or can do. Quantity represents the number of right marks. Quality is the percent of marks that are right.

Students voted to value knowledge and judgment equally for the test score.

See for details.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


By Richard Hart, PhD, at 22 Nov 2017

David McGilchrist’s article, 2012, The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning: Why are We so Unhappy? Kindle Edition, ISBN: 978-0-300-1902-1, explores why people are so unhappy. Again the answer is related to the bicameral brain. Right handed people do or act with the left brain. They unconsciously think with the right brain.
We do specific things. We can do without any thinking. Commands from God, a drill sergeant, or a police officer qualify. We can command ourselves by copying what others are doing. This can turn a crowd into a mob.
Or we can be introspective; using the right brain to bring into view the BIG picture and all of the ramifications of what “doing” may encompass.
The media has a good time reporting on specific “winners and losers” rather than presenting the big picture. Most people and sports teams end up losers.
Jeff gave me a neat example in money management a couple of days ago. A friend told him about asking an old Jewish gentleman about money. “You can do three things with money: spend it, save it, and invest it.” This is the big picture.
Money spent is gone. Money saved for 3-5 years buys larger things and covers unexpected expenses. Money invested for a lifetime provides a retirement. (It can take 3$ now to buy what $1 bought in 1980. Inflation encourages spending.)
Unfortunately credit cards were invented. You can now spend before you have earned. Jeff is like us; he pays off the credit card as he uses it. There is no monthly balance or bill or interest charge. He saves 1% to 2% on everything he buys. He is happy with it. A credit card balance makes one unhappy, especially if you cannot pay it off, and thus you create a self-imposed tax of around 18%.
He has split his income into the three buckets. He keeps a list of everything he spends, or plans to spend, money on. Everything. Needs come first. Everything else can wait until there is money in the spend bucket; or the savings is large enough to buy an item. Each specific item on the spend list is part of the external big picture that does not forget, as does the internal big picture. I want this now, but I see something on the list I would rather have when I have the money to buy it.
We may be unhappy in not getting something we could use a credit card for, but we can see how it fits into the big picture. We can wait. We can be happy in seeing progress. In time we may also be happy in not getting an item (My Hawaii fold-boat. I did learn to pilot an airplane).
If we operate at the level of just doing things, left-brain, there is no satisfaction; just an urge for doing more, getting more, and spending more. There is little internal satisfaction, as the left-brain is not designed to see the big picture.
We fall prey to the credit charge card, and now the loan charge card at the cash register. The cash register is morphing into a charge register.
I still believe the rule of three applies to happiness: 1. New, exciting, and different; 2. Compare; and 3. Confirm; or believe, know and understand; or learn, practice, and master. (And kids, grandkids and great grandkids.)
Happiness comes from confirming, understanding, mastery and kids. These all take time: patience.  The current culture in the USA is: doing – now -- in one act.
The November, 2017, issue of the National Geographic explores “The Search for Happiness”. Happiness is fostered in communities, “nations, communities, neighborhoods, and family households” that “give them an invisible lift, constantly nudging them into behaviors that favor long-term well-being”.
The key words here, to me, are “invisible” and “long-term”, when the first three communities are planning and controlling (Social Security and health insurance, for example). Money management is also the first factor mentioned below, and for the individual, must be very visible.
Six factors account for 75% of the potential for happiness: “strong economic growth, healthy life expectancy, quality social relationships, generosity, trust, and freedom to live the life that’s right for you. These do not come about by just “doing” something today. They may take years of carefully planned preparation.
Our brains are now set up, and our culture promotes us, to act now (left brain) and to be introspective (right brain), think about the consequences, later. This can be reversed by parenting and schooling. 
Meditation is becoming an important factor (See previous post: Radiant People). It appears to be the finishing step in brain, and mind, development from bicameral, to introspective, to optimized for the world we can now happily live in (Face Time and Face Book, for example).