Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Titles for books to be written, ideas to be developed, indeed, only beginnings. Or maybe endings, enough.

Imperfect Copies

The Seventh Day

Turtles All The Way Down

The Moment of Parting

Where Was Everybody?

One U:

The Upsets Of The Day

Becoming Mrs Rochester


Round Two


Zebras Everywhere

The Discover Bee

Monday, November 2, 2009

Total Recall

I watched the authors of Total Recall describe how they’d scanned in their whole lives - receipts, medical records, medals, contracts, business plans, emails, phone calls ... - and developed software to organize it. They gave examples of using the bits to find forgotten items, a phrase from an email, the name of a contact, ...

I search my email this way too, and sometimes the whole internet, and finding that phrase or name releases more of the related memory. Yet I began to think about information overload and time and realize that the amount of time looking backward through this material is time not looking forward and time not in the present and I wonder how having access to so much of one’s own history, one’s DigitalMe, will impact musing, daydreaming, philosophizing, the ability to wander around in one’s mind, rummage through.

I had reluctances when library card catalogs - the serendipity of browsing through the authors - became electronic, and I’ve learned a different kind of browsing.

So possibly with total recall, there will evolve a different kind of remembering and creating. And our plastic brains will adapt. Will we recognize ourselves?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

War is not a sports event.

War is not a sports event.

The human species proudly differentiates itself by its consciousness, values, morality, choices. How then explain brutality, and war?

Creating humanitarian principles to guide behavior towards each other as part of the internationally accepted Rules of War has a starting place that accepts war as a given. That false start leads to destruction of persons and property and worst, of kindness. War is an insufficient justification for managing an overload of ambition.

A search for simmer

Buddhism is about emptying the mind and having an awareness of now.

The Dalai Lama says emptiness is not vacuum, nothingness, but rather that nothing is fixed, there is a lack of form, motion, change, manifesting.

Physics states that observation removes choice by fixing a result, that observation fixes what is observed, makes possibility actual. Thus observation slows time. We know how elastic our perception of time is. We encapsulate this idea in “a watched pot never boils.”

So if the pace of human activity is speeding up, as it seems, thinking, doing, faster, faster, moving, ... while Buddhism spreads it’s awareness, slowing, slowing, and fixing/manifesting ... ?

The pot boils over? The bubbling stops?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tech Hubris

The health care industry is excited about electronics, electronic health records, savings, coordination. They’ve decided to use robot phone calls to customers and patients. I am expectant when the phone rings, between rings wondering who might be calling, kindly reaching out to me. When I hear the robot, instant rage covers my disappointment. I scheme about how to turn off the phone, turn off the ring, never ever answer, never ever hope.

I use TiVo to record chosen television programs, and watch a day or several days later. The first few minutes of a program I just watched was an emergency alert interruption, local flood evacuations, site of shelters, ... But it had no date, only times, evacuate now it commanded in a red trailer and command voice. Do you think there is no message developer at the National Weather Service who thinks that some of the audience time shifts?

As I experience each of these technology innovations, I feel less and less an individual, more a bit in a marketing audience.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Consume the host

I’ve been reading about parasites and predators. Some living things lay eggs inside other living things and then, from the inside out, take nutrition bit by bit, eat up the very nest that is sheltering them. They live; nurturer dies. Humans are doing the same thing to earth. For our own species survival and growth, we are consuming our host.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Out of the box

Out of the box

I appreciated what my state assemblyman Bill Monning said at last night’s healthcare discussion and decided to email my appreciation as well as a comment about parity for those he called ‘the mentally ill’. I composed carefully, went to his website, reluctantly accepted a category (For ..., Against ... Appreciations, ... ), pasted in my comments, and, ... was refused.

“You’ve exceeded the maximum,” said a bold red message. Exceeded. Ah, but no hint of what the maximum is. I’d worked hard. This felt disrespectful to me, a constituent. I was already resisting being channeled into a category, thinking only the tally would be read, not content. I had something I wanted to say, wanted heard, about language and politics and ‘the mentally ill.’

And as I saddened even more, I realized I was grieving the loss of electronic access, the triage of the comments page, this marvelous internet tool not as available, mediated.

I typed up my input, didn’t revise content for hard copy, printed it, and faxed his office, links I carefully chose not useful on a page, ... I wonder if a staffer will even read.

I’m feeling overwhelmed by systems, the only way I know to cope is to withdraw.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

End of life advance directives

Why did CMS not just issue a regulation permitting advance directive counseling as a billable service?

If I were drafting, I’d require every insurance policy to include advance directive instructions from the policy holder. I’d insist on a requirement that each of us think about how we’d like to live and how we’d like to not live. Whatever instructions the policy holder wants. But instructions.

Why did the issue become not ‘who receives’ or what one receives but ‘who pays’ ?

Who introduced the reimbursement option into the health care legislation?


Was the motivation provider greed? Or uproar creation?

Is this a Trojan Horse? That backfired?

The result was to be a payment for a service to providers, and the chance for counseling twice a decade, for seniors and people with disabilities, if one wished. But the first reaction was a scream about killing seniors, forcing people to choose to die, euthanasia, Nazis, ... And then a counter, it’s counseling, it’s optional, ...

And now the country is having a discussion of end of life, planning, advance directives, extraordinary interventions, ...

What was the hoped for consequence, and what the unexpected?

How did that clause get into the suggested legislation?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Editing errors

Even books from university presses have a typo or two. Newspaper stories, blogs, TV trailers, ... The number of errors seems to be rising. In addition to the carelessness that comes from being fast and first, I think it might be because the copy editors have been taught to read using look/say, not phonics, so the word looks right enough to them, despite the error.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The End of Search

Before the internet, before search, I had a big dictionary and a library look-up list and not everything I wondered about got pursued. Alta Vista, Yahoo, and now Google have quenched a thirst I didn’t realize was so strong. But search is now full of junk, intermediary hits leading to vendors and worms, deceptive metatags pointing me to marketers. Today, searching for the telephone dial codes to a small city in Spain, the first two dozen links were for software to download and try or buy. And I remember a few years ago learning that I couldn’t use the word ‘hotel’ in a city search for accommodations because I would see screens of vendors and websites, not links directly to a local hotel. It’s disappointing to see even Google spoiled, as spam spoiled email.

I don’t mind ads that are clearly ads. I’d pay a small amount for search software that vetted the metatags, screened out the intermediaries.

The competition for my attention is invasive. I wonder if I will just turn away.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Expand the WHO definition of health to include spirituality

At, there’s a request for ideas to rethink mental health, move past narrow perceptions, expand our understanding and collective involvement.

I have an idea. I think it could create global change. But when tried to use the online application form, the required categories weren’t a good fit and the software wouldn’t accept my input, so I am posting my idea here. (So much for expanding perceptions!)

WHO asserts that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” The definition has not been amended since 1948.

I’d like to add spirituality to the idea of wellness, so that “health is a state of complete physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The very suggestion for reconsideration would start people thinking, generate consequences that I can’t anticipate and reconsideration matches current social trends for health integration.

To make this happen, a committee would need to learn the WHO process and then:

develop arguments
differentiate from religious/theology
consider a proxy for community well-being from data already being collected
for instance: adults - changes in % voting
for instance: changes in teen pregnancies rate
create media event
include world spiritual leaders
collect implementation stories and disseminate
review impact in 2 years, 5 years

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Scuttling a good idea

If everyone had an advance directive, end of life care costs might decline, families and providers wouldn’t have to guess about patient wishes and liability issues, and each of us might start to think more about our own responsibility for our health and our own expectations.

That seems to me pretty straightforward, a win for the individual, the insurer, the system.

So I suggested that a part of having health insurance should be requiring an advance directive. There are easy universal forms available. Each person can choose from wanting everything to wanting only to be made comfortable. If they can discuss with family, friends, clergy, medical people. No big deal.

Somehow this has gotten monetized, been folding into discussions on rationing, and there is now a proposal that Medicare reimburse for advance directive counseling. Medicare serves seniors and people with disabilities; this group has become inflamed. That counsel fee is being perceived as depriving seniors their rights to be helped with costly interventions.

Sure we are talking about unsustainable Medicare costs, but we are also talking about sharing costs and social involvement.

We’d have a similar impact if everyone who had insurance was required by the insurer (public and private) to have an advance directive. That directive could just fold over into their coverage when they became Medicare-eligible. Maybe not as fast, but simple.

I don’t know who introduced the idea of associating directives with Medicare. Maybe someone was not thinking beyond a short-term budget savings, not thinking of the personal reaction. Maybe someone was deliberately trying to upset seniors with the hope of scuttling all healthcare change. It’s hard for me to understand how this good idea actually got included in the package in sure-to-fail way.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Up to my nose

Up to my nose

I woke up feeling good up to my nose.
From my toes to my nose,
Body signals were go.
And sad stays a bandit,
Masking my eyes,
Arresting the flow.
No go.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Using language to separate

Mental illness has its own medical specialty, its own volume of diagnostic codes, and its own vocabulary.  The word stigma is one of the words that is now used in a special way.  The coupling in the phrase “the stigma of mental illness” is pervasive.  Instead of its intended use to eliminate stigma the constant reminder serves to maintain the concept of stigma in the public mind.

“Stigma” means discrimination and prejudice and shame.   The mental health leadership would better align psychiatric disability with other disabilities and use the human rights language that they use.  

Even anti-stigma campaigns maintain the separateness of things related to mental illness by using language to separate instead of to bridge.


She has arrived early, has had time to collect her self and her appurtenances, waits.
The appointed time passes and so does her calm.  Anxiety tromples her peacefulness.  She wonders about often being early, and often giving up her sense of self as the time passes.

She is early in her life, too, having finished, at 64, her life review, is accepting of what she has done, has raveled the loose ends, is a bit bored, a bit patient, a bit nonchalant, wondering what she’ll do for the next expected 20 years.

She thinks about how to calculate how many minutes/hours/days she has spent being early and what the value has been and the learning.  Well, she has never missed a plane!

She waits, early 

She waits.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Healing through diet

In addition to the known or suspected connections between certain foods/diets and certain body and mood reactions, I think that abrupt extensive changes to one’s ordinary diet, such as severe restrictions on categories of input, cause a shock to the system and that within that shock the system can reorganize and symptoms can fade and disappear.  Sometimes that reorganization doesn’t last, and the system reverts to dysfunction and symptoms reappear.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Getting lost when there is too much input ...

The possibilities for the internet to facilitate outreach and inclusion excite me.  In the US, the new administration is using social networking tools to gather input and allow dialogue.  Except there are thousands of ideas and I have some and have just spent 30 minutes trying to figure out where my input should go and how to actually post.  And then it would be somewhere down around 3000 on a list.  Who would read that far?  And I understand networks are using outreach tools to boost favorite ideas to the top of the list.

So here is this wonderful tool being used to disadvantage outliers.  

I have given up and am therefore here posting two ideas about fiscal economies.  I’d like to be able to submit these formally to the person recently appointed to do a full spending review of budget and spending.  CPO, chief performance officer, is a position covering federal government budgeting and reform.  Nancy Killefer was former assistant secretary of the treasury in the Clinton Administration.  Her boss is White House budget chief Peter Orszag.
First, I think there could be a suggestion program, a bit more formal than commenting on blogs.  Just as there are now mechanisms to comment on, for instance, health care, I'd like to have a place to make suggestions about government efficiencies, ways to conserve and consolidate.  Sometimes end-users of services and programs have straightforward ideas about reducing complexities and layers of bureaucracy.  Submitters of adopted ideas could earn points, privileges, invitations, even dollars.  Or there could be contests between geographic Assembly Districts, which could save the most.

A suggestion that occurs to me is to combine certain letter carrier and census taker functions.  Letter carriers are familiar with their routes, know every residence.  In conjunction with the 2010 census, the Census Bureau is hiring contract workers to verify residential addresses.  It seems to me that letter carriers could be offered a voluntary overtime day and could each do their own route very efficiently.