Friday, November 17, 2017

The Cost of Learning

“The Cost in Lives of Learning to Use Introspective Minds” is a summary of eight books that I have read and reread in the past few months. It views history as a series of memes: ideas that perpetuate themselves, as do genes in the cells of our bodies. When they confer an advantage they survive.




Our distant ancestors traveled in small groups. The dominant male ruled. The dominant male reproduced his genes. Copying the observed behavior of group members, transmitted culture.

Groups split when the environment provided the resources locally or did not provide the resources locally. Groups competed for resources. This basic behavior applies to genes and to memes.

Those that reproduce survive. There can be nothing conscious or planned about this before the bicameral mind.

The first appearance of religion has been labeled pagan: a spirit in everything, and then multiple gods.

The evolving brain developed speech: words. This provided the basis for oral traditions: memes that could “infect” anyone who knew the language independently from their genetics.

The bicameral mind is assumed to function without a sense of consciousness of what it is doing. It just does. The left brain (doing and acting) follows the commands of the right brain (whole picture) as commands (voices) from God.

This evolutionary stage of development is traced through all groups on the planet. “Thus says the Lord” in the Old Testament. This is God, not the prophet speaking. The prophet may not even understand what he is saying to people or to a scribe.

Writing was invented. Now memes could be stored and transmitted externally to the brain and mind.

Words, however, turned out to be “messy”. Their usage and meaning change over time. Written words are poor substitutes for transmitting oral traditions.

With the break down of the bicameral mind, the internal voices from God ended for most people. The prophets (the last who heard voices from God) are recorded in the Old Testament. They mourn the loss of hearing the voices.

The oldest books of the Old Testament show the bicameral mind; the more recent the introspective mind. BUT the new introspective mind came into being infected with memes from the past.

Jewish tradition seems to handle change over time more easily than Christian tradition. [Or gives that appearance in response to the additional persecution.] For me, there are the mysteries of the 10 lost tribes and the use of the words: Hebrew, Jew, and Israelite.

Christ became the word of God in the flesh, by Paul (36-68), as recorded in the New Testament. Debate over the true nature of Christ, politics, and military actions led to the split of the Catholic Church into East and West in 1054.

Introspective minds and the invention of the printing press made the scriptures available to everyone in 1517. Everyone could seek God within and without self.

The memes related to organized religion now had to compete with those related to heaven and hell being right here on earth. Improve the human condition now rather than tolerate situations imposed by theologians (purgatory for example).

Our US constitution does not include the word God. Religion is a personal matter. Religion had led to bigotry and persecution, and still does. ["Under God" was added to the pledge of allegiance in 1954 to combat the communist threat. One feared meme forced a questionable change in another meme with unforeseen consequences.]

It has taken two world wars, among religious people, killing over 100 million in the last 100 years to produce the European Union (1992) with a common currency (1999). Only after such a severe spanking have nations stopped acting as pre-schoolers. Muslims are still being killed, mostly infighting, at 100,000 per year.

Introspective minds in ancient Greece reasoned that man was the center of concern (humanism), not Gods. This meme did not compete well with the multitude of Gods in fashion at the time and later with the new Christian religion.

The introspective mind was handed the task of being responsible for mankind, once the voices of the Gods no longer commanded human affairs. It has now taken over 2,000 years to learn how to do this as the old religious memes still prevail; they have been found useful in many ways in religion, commerce, and government that often were not well suited to the health of those infected.

The environment after WW1 set up the desperate conditions that resulted in WW2. The bicameral mind (follow orders without question, remorse or quilt) resulted in the death of about 4% of the world population at the time.

The 10 Hebrew Lost Tribes reappeared as the Aryans, the pure white race of Germany! The seminaries were converted to produce the brown shirts to staff churches in just a few years. The extermination of Jews (6 million) went full speed.

The meme for a pure white race is still with us on the Missouri/Arkansas line: the Ozarks. This meme motivated Timothy McVeigh to bomb the Federal Building in Oklahoma. Desperate people use desperate means.

The fearful resistance to federal control has cost Missouri millions of dollars in grants that other states have received. Missouri is/was the last state to pass legislation to register abused drugs, for example. This year expectations are there will be more deaths from drug overdoses in Missouri than from car accidents!

On the other hand, humanism, by use of the introspective mind, is again surfacing, in part by people becoming tolerant nontheist. We no longer need to convert or kill, to suppress religious memes (unless in self-defense).

Our culture and education determine the development of each person's introspective mind. We then have the choice to use it or just function with an unquestioning copycat bicameral mind.

For me, the questioning started 70 years ago. It is only now that I have the time and the new resources that I can go from believe, to know, to understand. I can still choose to believe as well as understand. My wife, in memory care, can continue to believe.

Religion is at its best as a personal matter; shared with others of similar beliefs, and also tolerant of different beliefs. 

“I believed it is time, once again, to promote a national narrative of inclusion, equality, justice, and peaceful coexistence.” By Dr. Larry Brown (30 Oct 2017).

Consider: is “doing it ourselves” rather than waiting for God, perhaps God’s will? We have been given the introspective mind that is designed to do just that; just as we were given the bicameral mind earlier in preparation for taking charge.


Resources:

Brown, Larry, 13 Nov 2017, White Nationalism On The Ozark Landscape: The Rise of the Christian Identity Movement. Tucker Hall, MU, Columbia, MO. The Department of Religious Studies Religion in Missouri Lecture Series.

Brown, Larry, Fall 2017, Faith In The Face Of Tyranny: The Life, Times, and Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. MU Extension Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Brown, Larry, 30 Oct 2017, White Nationalism: New Voices with an Old Message. First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, MO (I did not attend.)


Armstrong, Karen, 2001. The Battle for God: A History of Fundamentalism, 442 pages. “Fundamentalism cannot be defeated … they tend to downplay compassion … the primary religious virtue …  At the root of fundamentalism are nihilism (the destruction of all existing political and social institutions, by acting on an impulse to destroy; my understanding), hopelessness, and despair.” page 448. This use is different from when used as a "fundamental" Christian faith. ISBN: 0-345-39169-1

Armstrong, Karen, 2006. The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions, 565 pages. ISBN: 978-0-385-72124-0

Armstrong, Karen, 1993. The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, 460 pages. ISBN: 0-345-38456-3

Jaynes, Julian, 1990. The Origin of Consciousness in the Break Down of the Bicameral Mind, 491 pages. ISBN: 0-618-05707-2

Kuijsten, Marcel, 2016. Gods, Voices and the Bicameral Mind: The Theories of Julian Jaynes, 312 pages. ISBN: 978-0-9790744-3-1

Cohn, James, 2014. The Minds of the Bible: Speculations on the Cultural Evolution of Human Consciousness Kindle Edition, 78 pages. Kindle review:

Two developments in the history of the Bible are deeply related, and not merely coincidental. One is the lamentation of the loss of the experience of hearing God’s voice. The other is the rise of the language of introspection: an interiorized subjective dialogue with oneself. 
Click Kindle Edition, above, for full review. 

McGilchrist, Iain, 2012. The Divided Brain and the Search for Meaning: Why are We so Unhappy? Kindle Edition.  ISBN: 978-0-300-1902-1 (What the left and right brain sees.)

Ackerman, Diane, 2004. An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain, 300 pages. ISBN: 0-7432-4672-1

Bible, King James Version, PDF searchable.

Yet to Read:

Armstrong, Karen, 1983. The First Christian: St. Paul’s Impact on Christianity, 192 pages. Amazon

Ackerman, Diane, 2000. Deep Play Kindle Edition, 258 pages.

Goebbels, Joseph, 1999. Adolf Hitler-A Chilling Tale of Propaganda Amazon ISBN:158-279-0310

Ullrich, Volker, 2016. Hitler Ascent 1889-1939 Kindle Edition.


Neibuhr, Reinhold, 1932. Moral Man and Immoral Society. Kindle Edition. Influenced Obama and McCain.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Starting the Discussion

We need to understand the words we use if we are to understand what we want to discuss. I just opened a new blanket for Margaret. It is stamped: Single. It is huge for the daybed. I just now looked at the sheet that I bought a couple of weeks ago: Twin. Our king sized sleep number bed is composed of two twin beds. The day bed is a twin, not a single! But only one single person can sleep on it.
[One day later: The blanket is stamped Twin!!!! I had “single” in mind and therefore saw Single. I have had this problem for years. I must always edit, sometimes several times, what I write and listen to what I am saying.]
The above mix-up occurred in two days. This discussion will cover over just the last 2,000 years of a biological history that extends over millions of years. Yet each day was, at one time, today. Our physical environment has been changing. Our bodies have been changing. It is valid to view the same thing differently at different times.
There is a common set of relationships, over time, in what, how, and when we choose to believe:
Follow or Copy Belief
Choose to Believe
Modify Belief
Growing Up or Learning in Stable Environment
Changing Environment

There is also a common practice to limit a belief for the benefit of the person or person’s in charge. The cell phone with camera and the Internet are removing these old limits. Are whites, blacks, Jews, Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, uneducated, educated, rich, poor, illegal aliens or Native Americans the “enemy” or is the “enemy” mainly a mutual ignorance of life in general and the lack of will to provide for the common good of all groups? Schooling must be more than job training.
The meditation class at Provision Living provides an insight into how to actually do this. Chair yoga and tai chi provide additional connections between physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions. Fitness classes provide a new useful awareness of body including strength and balance.
I now know when I am sitting up correctly. I can now be at the center of the world (almost pain free) without needing to be in-pain, stressed, and in charge.
A recent example for all of this is the answer to the question, “What is a modern day (today in 2017) Jew? This maligned group of people can no longer be defined as a race by blood (because of intermarriage and conversion), as a single belief in God (about half in Israel are secular), or as mostly living in a nation. The realities of history no longer fit them into classical European nations with defined boarders.
The Unites States of America is no longer a nation of classical European nation immigrants. Margaret and I found San Antonio, Texas, a bit puzzling. Several groups of Mexican descent live there: Recent wealth from Mexico was building in the Northwest; poor lived in the Southeast, old families and new arrivals.
In summary, it is very difficult to say anything about religion, economics, and politics that covers more than a small specific situation. Each strongly influences the other. With this in mind, I will start working on a meaningful discussion (for me) on the foundation of current practice and understanding of religious beliefs.
I continue to accept the idea that a God does exist: acts of God. These remain things we insure against that we do not understand or understand but have little if any control over. We understand hurricanes, tornadoes, flood plains, and seat belts. We are only beginning to understand addiction: drugs (including tobacco).
I continue to accept that one should be thankful for being alive. Without a belief in the immortality of the sole our life after death is the same as before we were conceived: a monarch butterfly or a milkweed plant.
I continue to accept that the process by which God created the current state of affairs will continue for millenniums. The more we learn, the more miraculous it becomes. This also applies to the human brain and to God talking to man.
There was a time before God spoke to man. The human brain developed two lobes, that function much alike, on top of the ancient brain of “lower” mammals. The two lobes communicated with connective fibers. This is still more the case with women than men.
Then the right lobe started taking a new function. Speech and writing remained in the left lobe. This, it is posited, made space in the right lobe to develop the process of making useful the sensory inputs that did not have be to conscious.
We are not conscious of most mental activity. The right lobe became a command center. It used words to alert the left lobe to do something.
Commands heard from the group leader were acted upon before introspection was possible. In time, the right lobe became the source of commands. External commands were replaced by internal commands.
There was no questioning of these commands: external or internal. Now God spoke through these internal commands.
With further development of the brain and the ability to be introspective, the voice of God receded. Only prophets and then oracles were receptive. Then silence.
The brain as we know it now has been created by a God, over a million years, that various religions populate with a myriad of powers and intentions.
The founding fathers of the United States of America believed in a God that created the universe and everything in it, but did not micromanage things. They were adamant that church be separated from state. Theocrats had no privilege in standing or ability to run a nation over other citizens.
I can agree with this, after visiting our granddaughter attending the University of Virginia. I learned that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were classified as Deists: “God gave us reason, not religion.” They believed in the moral teachings of Jesus but not his divinity. George Washington is reported to be a mix of Deism and Christian beliefs. I can agree with that.
How can I agree? Because what we choose to believe, is what is, on faith alone. Hypnotism is now believed to be mostly a matter of faith in the hypnotist. The same goes for the illusionist. Margaret and I watched elephants vanish before our eyes in Los Vegas. Suicide also narrows vision and concern to a minute point weakly connected to reality.
Belief can overpower reason, knowledge, understanding and pain. When my back pain again started to increase last month, just a bit each day, I then stopped all activity the past couple of weeks related to pain and worked only on fitness exercises that made me feel good. Once again, I feel good on leaving each class, I believe in part, because I want to feel good rather than to respond to (paint out) pain. [Painting out pain was a great idea but it did not last.]
Christ asked for complete faith, as a child. Trust me. I am the only way. He has not returned in 2000 years. As a child I believed, as my parents, friends and acquaintances did.
Margaret and I were approached by a man as we left a grocery store. He had a $2000 check that he needed to cash. If we would give him $500 for expenses, he would cash the check and split with us. He wanted to give us something so we could trust he would return. We did not believe, as we knew something about banking, and we had two boxes of butter pecan ice cream melting in the cart.
Christ asked for our trust on faith alone. No other conditions. The conman felt the need to bribe us.
The church sold indulgences in the Middle Ages to finance building the cathedrals in Europe. Time off purgatory can now also be earned on the Internet.
What the common folk believe, and the brain needed for that belief, still needs to be isolated and described. I do know it will not be a one-size-fits-all answer.
I hope to find it in (or generate it from) the mix of views from the books I have been reading mentioned earlier: brain anatomy, development, and function; feeling and emotion; two origins of consciousness; and Judeo-Christian holy books.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

What We Believe

Yesterday the Internet streaming from The Crossing church service included, “What is your favorite Bible verse?” There are many Bible verses to pick from.

The first that came to me is, “I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, he who believes in Me has eternal life.” John 6:47

Another is, “Truly I say to you, whoever does not accept and receive and welcome the kingdom of God like a little child shall not in any way enter it. Luke 18:17

And another is, “Jesus answered him. I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a person is born again he cannot ever see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3

Some 2000 years have passed since that was written. It is as valid today as it was when written, but we know a lot more about God’s ever developing playground: earth, and the creatures living there, and their manners of writing that now replace oral traditions. 

Powerful computer analyses now help set dates and facts in the Old Testament that can be confirmed by archeological digs. See, The Minds of the Bible Speculations on the Cultural Evolution of Human Consciousness by Rabbi James Cohn, 2014, in ebook locations 542-566. [My first ebook!]

One of the first things I did, when teaching the new campus computer system to do useful things for me, was to teach it to help score sets of 120 single page biology class essays. On pass one, it chewed each essay into a pile of single word phrases. It now knew the vocabulary.

On the next set of passes it collected phrases containing more than 3-5 words in each essay. It now knew relationships (the very very beginning of understanding). It now has 120 sets of relationship phrases. 

The computer next compared the vocabulary and relationships from the first essay, with the remaining 119 essays. This almost exceeded the capacity of the computer.

The computer then read the essays and printed a ranking, created from the sum of common phrases, at the end of each sentence. The first essay was compared to the other 119 essays. The second essay was compared with the remaining 118, and so on. 

I then read the essays with the duplicates flagged. The same long phrase found in only two of the 120 essays indicates a lack of originality.

Students were puzzled by how their scrambling of sentences and of paragraphs  was still detected as duplicates. The computer had no sense of a time line or place, just a pile of phrases from each essay;it was not limited by time or place. Computer analyses of the Old Testament do include time and archeological space.

My work ended when students discovered they only needed to include about three misspelled words to set each essay apart from the others. Spell check had not been invented.

But the program became very useful in summarizing Margaret’s advanced degree in education questionnaires. It told us what nurses were thinking about and the relationship between their concerns and staff positions. Preadaptive evolution is for a structure coming into being for one purpose (that may or may not continue) that then goes on to serve another.

My own analysis of the Bible started when I was about 10 years old. It took most of one summer to read. The Old Testament is very blood thirsty. The New Testament puzzled me in that what is written and how people acted seemed at odds.

Our little Methodist church split over a scandal that I no longer remember (if I ever knew) shortly after a very clear memory of batting another child over the head with a sand box screener. My parents did not belong to the group that held on to the building.

Little kids do not understand but do pick up on feelings. My mom commented one day to the effect that the churchwomen doing the bizarre thought nothing of asking her to furnish a number of dressed chickens ready for baking. Besides the birds were free since we raised them and did not have to buy them at the meat market.

My amateur missionary work in the Air Force came to an end when my leader wanted to save all the Japanese he could, but since they killed his brother, he wanted them to burn in hell, a bit anyway. Nor was I into speaking in tongues. Our off base Methodist minister was dismissed because he opposed one-arm bandits being newly installed in open storefronts.

Visits to churches, temples and shrines in Japan, Philippines, Hong Kong, Bangkok, and India ended my calling to the ministry when my enlistment was up, at the age of 24. I enrolled in two summer courses at MU: psychology and chemistry in 1955. Chemistry won out.

I wanted an education and a job. How do we explain, understand, the world we live in? Margaret and I met at the First Baptist Church where she was in charge of the college age group and I was a church mouse the last two years before graduating and marrying.

It is with this background that I now try to make sense out of the past by combining several different views from within and outside traditional groups of believers. If I have learned one thing, "leading" theologians and prophets, in general, are associated with people with sufficient wealth (time and money) to live isolated lives. [They are not the unknown and forgotten millions who only leave behind "folk traditions" and children.]

I can say the same thing about my 30 years associated with NWMSU. I was in the middle of things that had important consequences that I was mostly unaware of. Time, monarch butterflies, and friends at Provision Living are now changing that.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Who We Are

Margaret and I are facing the final question of who we are. We know a lot about who we have been in the erratic passage of time.  The future will soon be different.

I have been reading comparative histories of religion, and the origin of consciousness, as well as, attending a Tuesday morning university extension Osher Lifelong Learning Institute class on Faith in the Face of Tyranny with another resident this semester. These make my understanding of theology and of believing very out of date.


Believing without knowledge and understanding limits us to the past when we, and our families, need to be preparing for the future. We analyze the past as a good basis for living now and in the future.

Fortunately we experienced the large community non-denominational praise singing churches in San Antonio and Chicago with our kid’s families. Martin Luther liberated congregations by translating the New Testament into German.

Community churches remove denominational flavors and hymns in what appears to be a way of returning to Old Testament music and praises. [Hymns have a very long life; hundreds of years. Praises go out of date in a couple of years; have a much higher market value.]

Who we are has very practical applications in justifying how we treat people with dementia, hospice, and the timing of selected end of life events.

[The son of a resident in the next apartment just stopped by as I am writing. He too is concerned where to put his mother on leaving the hospital after a second fall and second broken hip operation.]


The Axial Age, between 900 to 200 BCE (or about 600 BCE) sets the scene for the creation of the major religions. This is history. These faiths have been edited with every major crisis. They all profess love, peace, and helping the unfortunate.

The cultures into which we were born and raised were Methodist and Southern Baptist. Just about 15 years ago Southern Baptist split off the traditional faith into the Cooperative Baptist when the Southern Baptist demanded a signed creed oath. Theology maintains the church property. Spirituality follows theology. The believers practice the faith. Understand, know, and believe.

“Spirituality helped us survive. However, belief in a supernatural being wasn’t necessary and thus religion has taken many forms around the world ...” in An Alchemy of Mind by Diane Ackerman, 2004, p. 62.


Trade networks in the Middle East gave rise to wealth that was not distributed and evenly shared as in nomadic tribes and early agriculture. As an example, this gave rise to Islam in an attempt to end endless warring, to take resources, rather than to share resources. 


It has been some 2000 years later that Europe came to this idea with the common euro currency now used in 19 nations. “The ultimate effect of the introduction of coinage was … an ideal division of spheres of human activity that endures to this day: on the one hand the market, on the other religion.” In Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber, 2011, p. 249.

“”Strange as it may seem, the idea of “God” developed in a market economy in a spirit of aggressive capitalism.”” In A History of God by Karen Armstrong, 1993, p. 27. Also see The Great Transformation, 2006, 365 pages.

This is history, as it is currently known. It does not supply the biology behind the Axial Age. How did we get from first man, traveling in groups of a dozen or two with a strong leader and who left their dead behind, to rational man living in cities of millions of residents who care for their dead?


The Origin of Consciousness in the Break Down of the Bicameral Mind by Juian Jaynes, 1990, 2nd Edition, 491 pages, presents a novel idea based on the current understanding of ancient texts (including the Old Testament) and changes in the biology of the human brain during the Axial Age. The introspective brain (questioning) replaced the bicameral brain (doing) now only 2,500 years ago.

Conditions needed to develop both outside and inside our bodies for man to be able to hear God's words and then to no longer hear God’s words. The age of prophets is now closed in New Testament times. Rich oral tradition has been replaced by anemic written word. (See The Minds of the Bible Speculations on the Cultural 
Evolution of Human Consciousness by Rabbi James Cohn, 2014.) 

Chapter 11, Two Origins of Consciousness by Bill Rowe in Gods, Voices and the Bicameral Mind edited by Marcel Kuijsten, 2016, p 153-174, compares evolution and education. The brain had to evolve, in general, but each person develops a brain related to the environment and to how the brain is used: just copy (memorize) or introspective. 


This looks surprisingly like the change seen in underprepared college students after three experiences with knowledge and judgment scoring of multiple-choice tests. 


Expected           More than half mark and are mostly right.
Misconception  More than half mark and are mostly wrong.
Discriminating  Less than half mark and are mostly right.
Guessing           Less than half mark and are mostly wrong

Strong beliefs lead to misconceptions that are difficult to manage: Ice is more dense than water; ice is hard. Yet, every grade school student knows that ice floats on water. It takes an introspective mind to be discriminating and to know what you have yet to learn. 

Anyone can mark each question. Traditional multiple-choice requires it and thus promotes lower levels of thinking. Luck on test day even spikes the score with 25% right marks on four-option questions, on average.

Practiced self-judgment produces active, introspective, self-correcting scholars from passive pupils. Learning for your self by questioning and answering is a lot more fun than rote memorizing nonsense for a multiple-choice test.


As I study these thousands of pages, I am getting the impression that the chicken does not replace the egg. We need them both. Creation is not finished. Today we need both praises and hymns. I will post again as I learn more to understand what I know and what I just believe.

Monday, October 16, 2017

League of Black Collegians Workday

A figure of speech is a word or phrase that has a meaning other than the literal meaning. It can be a metaphor or simile. “My heart is beating.” is literal, an observable fact: 60 beats per minute.
A word or phrase used in a non-literal sense for rhetorical or vivid effect. “My heart is beating for you.” Is an expression of affection or support that does not have to have any knowledge of beats per minute. It sounds nice and can have a variety of effects related to real and imaginary situations. Metaphors are tricky.
Saturday our building manager volunteered to spike the 50 holes for milkweed with a large iron bar. I said, “If you hit a large rock, just move over a ways from the flag placed by the city conservationist. The flag does not represent the exact location for the hole.”
But the ground now has a number of large rocks on the surface. He did move over a ways. He put the bar at the edge of each offending rock and rolled it out rather than find a spot without a large rock. The rocks add something to the otherwise monotonous landscape. We thought we understood one another, but we did not. “Move over a ways” (1) to dig the hole and (2) to dig through rock, produce different results when accomplishing the same task.
Sunday I had this in mind when 30 members of the League of Black Collegians (LBC), MU, where here to plant the 50 milkweeds on the Provision Living Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary. I never labeled a team member with a shovel as the digger.
Several members had their music playing. I asked one, “Is that from the Internet or stored on your phone?” “On my phone.”
There is then more to metaphor than a term or phrase that changes meaning over time within a culture. Meaning also is related to who is the speaker and who is the listener, and the immediate situation, along with what is known of the history of usage (Jaynes, 1990). We both heard the same words.
Time and knowledge are constantly evolving new cultures (and leaving others behind). Without a common language being taught in schools (a fad, not too distant in the past, was for some schools to teach with the jargon used in the community) and common experiences growing up, a nation can only hope for the best, that people will strive to optimize their perceived needs in the short term, that promote the long term general welfare (LBC).
The Multicultural Mizzou Timeline from creation of the University in 1839 until now points out that new people from different cultures do not disappear into one look-alike and act-alike group. These students cannot be exactly like me nor can I be exactly like them. We speak different (English) languages and use different metaphors or the same metaphors with different meanings stretched out over 60 years.
We can learn to be friends and help each to succeed. The volunteer workday was a success in several ways. I was shocked to finally realize that the first black student to enter MU was the year I enlisted in the air force in 1950.
That GI Bill got me a PhD. The CBL is also promoting education, as the way out of poverty, and the ability to control one’s own affairs.
CBL October 15 photos.

Jaynes, Julian, 1990. The Origin of Consciousness in the Break Down of the Bicameral Mind, 2nd Ed. 491 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New York.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Margaret's Rash

Yesterday I met a pair headed to an in-service training program. They were concerned about anything that might be of interest to the Provision Living staff from the resident’s family point of view.
Yesterday Margaret and I had our 6-month doctor checkup. We both felt about as good as it gets now, except for the reoccurring rash under her tummy fold and now also further down.
Dr. Hayes point of view was that the rash was not “reoccurring” but “ineffectively treated”; that has not been eradicated. I mentioned that Gold Bond medicated body powder and calmoseptine ointment seemed helpful. Her reply was Nystatin was needed and applied on an uninterrupted schedule twice a day until the skin Is fully recovered. (The one time prescription should do the job within one month.)
Our caregivers recently changed their schedule in putting Margaret to bed. Instead of waiting for her bedtime, about 9:00 pm, they are starting about 7:00 pm. They are then starting a 15-minute cycle to start the process two hours earlier.
Seated on the daybed; “Time for bed.”; holding a night gown. With any negative response, continue talking to her and teasing for an effective command.
If she leans fully back on the daybed and raises her feet, then remove her shoes, along with the usual request or description of what is being done.
A new person jumped aside, “She is kicking at me1” The new caregiver misread body language.
Once the process begins, accompanied with the usual banner (similar to an auctioneer’s chant except attention is now controlled by soft, short, well spaced speech) and motions; Margaret may well just sit there and undress and put on the nightgown herself.
On the other hand, at the first time a frown appears or a hand is raised; it is time to stop and just visit a bit and then start again. A couple of minutes visiting with me (letting Margaret continue with whatever has her attention) works too.
If the jaw drops, a fist is formed, or a hand points out the door, it is time to recycle back in about 15 minutes. Don’t push to the point she batters you with a fist.
When this works, the rash is treated properly. The sleep number bed even reports that I am getting a good night’s sleep: over a quality sore of 80%.
But this morning I found Margaret in her nightgown but still in her day cloths. The rash had not been treated? (I marvel at the way two or three caregivers can enter our apartment and care for Margaret and not wake me up.)
[6:50 am. Fire drill!!!  Margaret and I, and the guy across the hall walk to the gathering area.]
{Next day!! Between caring for Margaret, herding caterpillars and milkweed plants, yoga, my daily hour trimming seed stalks from Sericea lespedeza on the sanctuary, and a surprise 59th wedding anniversary party it was 9:00 pm by the time we turned in.]
The rash looked good yesterday morning, but not so good at bedtime. During the day I questioned if the Nystatin prescription had been delivered. I then called the doctor’s office. (I had a feeling that something was not right when we left the office. I forgot to check on the order.) The order had not been sent! It was sent. It arrived in a few hours, ready for yesterday night.
Now for a new plan. I stay in the apartment until Margaret is up the first time in the morning. Pull call string. Caretaker applies the Nystatin. (For months, I have been able to eat at 7:15 and get back to the apartment before Margaret is up.)
Execution of new plan. Margaret wakes up and looks ready to go to the bathroom. I pull the call string. Caregiver appears. Margaret is not ready to get up. Caregiver carries on with other duties until I call again.
I call. Caregiver appears without Nystatin. Returns from nurses station with the two old ointments. We search apartment. Find and apply Nystatin.
New plan: Lock Nystatin and Calmoseptine in my file cabinet. Call when Margaret is in the mood to shower, go to bed, or get up in the morning.
Margaret is not only becoming more distant, but a third Margaret is becoming more clearly evident, to me. I now believe the caregivers have been fully aware of the third Margaret from day one. This is a speechless compliant Margaret. It is different from a defiant, “worries”, sun downing and, in general, verbal Margaret.
It surprised me when we went to the doctor the other day. I told her we were going to the doctor after she was fully awake. There was no response. I told her she needed to get her cloths on, that I was holding, about an hour before we needed to leave. All went well. She had 30 minutes to play with her keepsakes.
I then told her it was time to go to the doctor. She marched out the door!! She did not have to check on a dozen things requiring numerous trips back into the apartment, including checking the bathroom several times.
She was in a state that she often appears when caregivers talk to her for up to several minutes terminating with a “yes” head nod. She then does as directed or what she needs to do, often, without direction.
This morning I handed the caregiver the Nystatin from our lockable filing cabinet. She said she also had a tube in the medicine cabinet in the nurse office.  Two tubes!!
We checked on the directions: “Apply twice daily”. The computer said “Apply as needed”. The computer was updated.
My error was I should have given the nurse a copy of the order to get it into the system correctly. Or when a prescription shows up, the caregiver checks the directions as was done this morning on the arrival of the second tube.
It is things like this and Margaret’s mood swings, when they disrupt scheduled events, that still set my back into spasms. The fitness classes, meditation, standing up properly, and not missing my exercises before getting up in the morning; that are what still keep me away from physical therapy or a chiropractor.
[A couple of days later after no successful application of a “new plan.”]
[Friday night “Apply twice daily to the affected area.” As I came back to the apartment from working on the Butterfly Sanctuary, I saw ointment being applied to Margaret’s face. I questioned this.
Last night about ½ of the tube, that I have, has been used in a few applications to her tummy fold area.]
The computer instruction was to apply ointment to the affected area. The ointment for Margaret’s face was no longer in the medicine cabinet, so the switch to Nystatin. Both prescriptions were to be applied “to the affected area”; by well trained caregivers, who know Margaret well, on three different shifts. It appears that the affected area must be identified and the rate of application also given.
Today we got to 9:00 am Margaret’s time at 3:00 pm our time; according to plan. Margaret is in general in good spirits. Were we in skilled-nursing, as we were in South Hampton Place, she would be highly sedated (calmed). Her caregiver time is increasing in getting up and going to bed.
Since this “two day” episode has now spanned 10 days, I am stopping here. It gives you a glimpse of the world we live in. We are tagging the next 25 monarch butterflies we raise fed on milkweed leaves from my older brother’s farm. Trimming invasive plants from the butterfly sanctuary an hour a day is a good distraction for me.
Relatives need to be very patient and not afraid to question everything. The simplest event can turn into a 30 minute ordeal if you are not flexible.

9:00 pm "Here comes the calvary!"  I asked Margaret if she was ready for bed. "Yes" Pulled call. Three familiar caregivers marched in to a cooperative Margaret. Ten minutes later they were on there way. With that woman power, they could work with Margaret as if a little doll: clothes off, ointment, nightgown on, and fully into bed (no foot on floor).  New plan worked.

Next morning after post. It occurred to me that the almost empty tube of ointment had been used for 10 days rather than just a few days. Time only passes with the caterpillars getting bigger, pupating, and emerging as adults butterflies. 



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

My Fitness Program

My Fitness Program
Fitness is not an absence of illness. Fitness in residential care is not “pumping iron” to your maximum performance (no pain; no gain). Fitness in residential care is gain without pain.
Fitness, I have learned over a year of attending weight training, stretching, better balance, yoga, tai chi, and meditation classes, requires an awareness of self and of well being. This involves mind memory and muscle memory.
There is no single fixed standard of performance for everyone. Each person follows the instructor to complete an exercise as presented, or limits the range of motion, or drops out at the first sign of pain. As a consequence the classes are for everyone.
If in a weight training class, ask for a lighter weight, or just continue without a weight. All other activities can be performed at a slower pace or with a reduced range of motion when doing them for the first times.
Our yoga instructor was bitten by a little brown recluse spider. Her substitute complemented the class on our ability to perform as she was directing. New class members remind us of how we performed at first. All the instructors spend some time putting them at ease; there is no need to be embarrassed. “What happens in fitness class stays in fitness class.”
In time we have been lead through approaching 100 exercises plus homework; that I remember no more than the exercises. The rapidly changing exercises each blot out the previous one. Some make a profound difference in how my back feels.
These I ask about at the end of class. I get checked to see that I am doing them correctly. They are exercises I am building my fitness program on.
Often the instructor will ask if there are any issues that need attention at the start of a class. Exercises that address these issues are then included in the class. This is the second source of exercises for my own fitness program.
[Two weeks have past since I started this post. After a week of feeling better each day, that prompted me to start writing, I had this feeling once again that the basic problem was creeping in again. Others also noticed the change in my posture.
My time was easily used up working on weed control on a mound with 45-degree sides. Here we will plant milkweeds this fall that are in containers this summer. I am also designing a caterpillar nursery for the residents. These distractions take my mind off back pain. Sudoku also makes a good distraction while I wait for the spasms to go away.]
My first source of exercises for my own fitness program is a collection of “exercises you can do in bed” before you get up in the morning. I collected these several years before moving to residential care. BUT I did them with “no pain/no gain”. Now I have the awareness of self so I can respond correctly to instruction AND to freelancing effectively. Sitting up straight is automatic with the start of class. I walk differently. These all help with the back pain.
I walked almost normally to breakfast and the rest of the day. I also arrived at a new level of exercise before getting out of bed. Repetition of the exact same sequence of exercises seems to become ineffective in solving the back pain problem.
PAIN. There is “stop in your tracks” pain. There is it hurts from 1 to 10. There is an awareness of pain and a dread of it coming back. There is “it just feels good”. And something new to me: a gentle tingling awareness in THE SPOT. A sharp jab hurts. Don’t do that. Follow the “painting” instructions below.
Up to now I was planning to describe the set of exercises I have been doing. You can find dozens of good sets on the Internet: back pain exercises. It is how you do them that is important and if they are of any help. Also when a stretching exercise becomes very easy to do and seems ineffective, it is time to switch in another one.
For example: After doing some basic stretching exercises that just feel good. I then return to exploring a spot on my right lower back. The same exercise that has no pain on my left side, does have pain on my right side. At this point my back does not hurt at all.
For me, drawing a circle with my right knee HITS the SPOT. So back off. SLOWLY repeat in a SMALL circle no more that three times. Do another exercise on another part of the body or a few of them. Now return to the SPOT. Slowly paint out the pain. No more that three times.
[To do this effectively, you must concentrate on that ONE SPOT. We have been taught to concentrate on the one muscle or set of muscles at a time in class.]
BUT, that helped, but did not get rid of the back pain when walking. I then worked with a number of stretches of my own design to find the next SPOT. Using my leg muscles to lift my hips as high as possible. Breath. Lower down at the shoulder blades, the waist, and then the hips until my feet rise from the bed. This sends a ripple from the shoulder blades to the tailbone. It should feel good.
Now I can also sense the beginning of pain or the tingling at new SPOTS in my back away from the backbone. This morning I moved my back in a curricular rolling motion with my heals near my bottom.
On a sleep number bed, a classy air mattress, this produces a fair back massage. I then stretched, twisted, and turned, slowly, until I painted out the most prominent SPOT (visualized moving a pressure point slowly around the SPOT until it numbed or failed to be recognized).
I am now looking forward to painting out a number of SPOTS. Our fitness classes are good for general fitness. Working on new SPOTS maintains fitness and hopefully gets to the real cause of my back pain (beyond caregiver stress, etc.).
I still have a concern about what is taking place. I do not want this to be another case of self-hypnosis that prevents a true diagnosis and healing.
In general, I am feeling good. I can keep up with the city conservationist working on the Provision Living at Columbia Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary on 45-degree slopes. And the sleep number bed is rating my sleep quality at or near 90%.
What I cannot do is get in a hurry when walking or spend too much time getting my wife out the door of our apartment without a back muscle spasm. The spasms do affect my legs, unsteadiness, but are now more of an ache than a pain. A few minutes of sitting down, Sudoku, or conversation are easy distracters and “cures”.
[3:00. “Mr. Richard, we need your help. Margaret is loose in the hall.”  She had resisted having her second sock removed by the toe nurse in assisted living. I walked her back to the office and had no problem getting things set for doing the second foot.]
My back did not bother as I jogged about a city block. It did not bother while attending her needs during work on the last foot (I did sit in a chair most of the time). My back is not bothering now.
During the last week, I explored the sleep number bed settings. Lowering the pressure made things worse. Returning to normal and lowering my head made things better.
The question remains: bed, posture, stress, exercise or a bit of each in a never to be found one fixed setting for each. We are dealing with a dynamic system (what hurts one day may not on another and visa versa):
1.    Learn enough exercises to populate a 20 to 30 minute wake up program.
2.    Learn to recognize pain indicators and tingles (before things hurt).
3.    Cruse the Internet or invent your own stretches to search for SPOTS.
4.    Direct full attention to painting out one SPOT at a time.
5.    Inter mix stretches and painting as time permits.

6.    Maintain the classroom tradition: “Have fun. Feel good.”

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Feeling Good

A few times a year I wake up just feeling good. It often happens after a family reunion. This morning I will attribute it to the monarch butterfly egg search yesterday.
About a dozen people gathered at the 3M Flat Branch-Hinkson Creek Wetlands shelter. I took a 6 qt plastic box with caterpillars of various sizes, related to the temperature they were held, and another box where a caterpillar had fastened itself to the lid in preparation for its next stage in life.
We spent an hour finding eggs and caterpillars of various sizes. And visiting. It was just fun to share each find, and why each person had come, and how they found the shelter. I was among people of all ages with a common interest. I have new email friends. For an hour my back did not bother.
Then it did. I rested as soon as the spasm started. That took two stops in ½ mile. One of my new friends asked which of three ways people used to find the shelter I had used. “I will help you take stuff up to your car if you will give me a ride to my car, over a mile away.” Kimberly had left me her milkweed display to feed my caterpillars. Deal.
Feeling good must also be related to my new fitness program that builds on the Provision Living fitness program. It takes me 15-20 minutes to repeat the  “before you get out of bed” movements I learned before leaving our house. Only now I do them in the slow, graceful, non-straining, style of yoga and tai chi, including an awareness shared from meditation. I just bought a wall clock with a second hand. I am learning to count breathing when my eyes are closed (no clocks when yoga was invented).
Each stretching movement is only repeated three times (or if it just feels good maybe five). The idea is to awaken the body one muscle at a time. This makes it possible to figure out which muscle is a problem. Then assume stretches that work that muscle without hurting, no more than three times.
Feeling good is also related to the care my wife receives. Her persistent-tummy fold rash during hot weather has been a real botheration. It takes less than five minutes to clean, dry, and powder, when she will permit doing it. What has bothered me is my need to keep track of this and call again after each failure to get the job done. This is not a problem with long term caregivers to whom my wife has bonded. That now leaves getting her teeth brushed and pills daily.
I no longer worry about my wife receiving good care if I am not here to referee. Even the smallest experienced caregiver seems resilient to my wife’s responses when her dementia personality takes over. There is an increasing need for patience and split second timing. The good timing in getting my wife to bed for the past 3-4 days has resulted in my sleep number bed, sleep quality score, increasing from below 70 to above 80.
The August 7, 2017, issue of Time was on the stand where I pick up the newspaper this morning. It reviews drug free treatments for depression. They include exercise (move), cognitive behavioral therapy (identify the problem), behavioral activation therapy (active group participation), and mindfulness training (awareness of self). All of these are presented in a different mix in the fitness classes at Provision Living at Columbia. Everyone participates within their limitations in memory care. Assisted living residents select participation.
11:11 am. I just learned that my wife was up, happy, and talking, yesterday when I was gone for two hours. This morning is the exact opposite. She refuses to dress, is scowling, and has not said a word. Her attention is only on her keepsakes. Is this the typical bad day following a real good day? Or does my presence make the difference? Is this a problem or not?
12:10 pm. Our lunch delivered to our room! Margaret’s napkin and silverware are missing in the picture. In the time everything was transferred from the cart to our table, it snuggled in under stuff in the lowest bookcase shelf. 
The Crossing at Columbia, MO, is playing on my computer (Christians are happier, healthier and live longer lives than atheist; I can replay what I missed from the Internet). The Time article is on my desk and the monarch caterpillars are happily feeding in the 6 qt boxes.
12:25 pm. The fifth attempt to give her morning medications. Her first speech today! Very clear. It startled both the caregiver and me. It may be a good day after all.
1:15 pm. My older brother and his wife come each Sunday. We Facetime with my youngest brother and Margaret’s youngest sister in Indiana. “Oh, I am sorry, you are having company.” I motion for the caregiver to come on in. She picks up on using our company as a distraction. “Here Maggie is your medicine.” Down it goes. Maggie is a happy camper. I am too.